Rocky (1976) Blind Spot Review

Happy Birthday to Sylvester Stallone, who turns 71 today! Guess I better review Rocky, which I’ve finally watched for Blind Spot 2017. Finally, right?!

Rocky (1976)

Directed by John G. Avildsen

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

Music by Bill Conti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

So, yeah – I liked Rocky the most (so far). It’s one of those movies that’s so iconic & has been spoofed so often that it felt like I’d seen it already anyway. I suppose that’s why it’s taken me so long to finally get around to watching the whole thing. I’ve seen bits & pieces of it over the years and knew the ending. It was definitely worth sitting down to finally watch it from start to finish, though. About damn time, right?!

Watching Rocky also means I can add another movie seen to my IMDB Top 250 Project (It’s currently at number 218. WTF? Too low). Yay! Another one crossed off my list (I’m never gonna finish watching those 250). Oh, and I can add it to my list of My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners! Okay – I’ve just updated that post so you can go have a look to see where I’ve placed Rocky. Nah, screw getting extra views – I’ve put it at number six. It’s good. It’s worthy of its status. I’m glad it won Best Picture. What did it beat? *Googling now*… All The President’s Men (not seen it), Bound For Glory (wtf is that?), Network (okay but Rocky is better), and Taxi Driver (erm, like Rocky I feel like I’ve seen it but don’t think I’ve ever seen it all the way through. Rocky is better anyway).

Should I get around to reviewing Rocky? I’ll be honest – I don’t really want to. It’s been around forever and has such loyal, diehard fans that you should really just go read reviews done by those who have a strong personal connection to this character and the film’s themes (like Eric of The IPC – this is his review). As the plot synopsis above says, this film is all about “going the distance” and believing in yourself and all that feelgood hoohah that so many movies attempt but very few manage to achieve without feeling phony & contrived. Rocky is genuine.

I was quite surprised when looking Rocky up at IMDB for this review to see that it has quite a low “metascore” (that’s the rating from “professional critics”). This is where professional critics piss me off. How miserable do you have to be in life to not at least be slightly moved by one of the best feelgood movies out there? Admittedly, Rocky is going to feel somewhat dated in its themes nowadays as sooooo many movies have tried to do similar since. But this came out in 1976 and there hadn’t yet really been any movies quite like it (that I can think of, anyway, but I’m probably wrong because I often am). It seems like uplifting, feelgood movies often get slammed by critics. Who wants dreary & depressing all the time?! Just because a movie is depressing, it doesn’t always make it good. And just because a movie is uplifting, it doesn’t always make it bad. Yeah, I’m also one of those lovers of feelgood galore The Shawshank Redemption. It makes me happy. And that’s okay, professional critics! It’s okay to be moved by a film because it makes you feel good! I happen to think that truly good filmmaking is the ability to make an audience love your film because they connect so deeply with your characters and/or your story. I know that Rocky is one of those types of films. Like my Shawshank, I can fully understand why Rocky means so much to some people.

Shit. I’ve still not really talked about Rocky yet in my Rocky “review”. Let’s start by talking about the character of Rocky. Am I a fan of Sylvester Stallone? No, not in the slightest. Is he a good actor? Nope. But that doesn’t matter. As Rocky, he’s perfect. He IS Rocky. I just read this little tidbit at Wikipedia:

“United Artists liked Stallone’s script, and viewed it as a possible vehicle for a well-established star such as Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, or James Caan. Stallone appealed to the producers to be given a chance to star in the film. He later said that he would never have forgiven himself if the film became a success with someone else in the lead.”

Seriously?? Those choices would’ve been SO wrong to play Rocky and the movie wouldn’t have achieved so much success without Stallone in the role. I’m glad he fought for the part (and like the fact that the movie itself was an underdog that went on to beat the odds, just like Rocky himself). I think, having written the script, it really shows in Stallone’s performance how the character is a part of him and that we wouldn’t have gotten the same genuine feel from another actor. It’s why Rocky became such a beloved character. I can see why this movie propelled Stallone to fame and why he still has loads of, let’s face it, dude fans. He’ll still never ever be a favorite actor of mine but I certainly have more respect for him now. He makes this movie what it is. So don’t avoid this film if, like me, you don’t necessarily love Stallone.

Also, don’t avoid this movie if you don’t like sports movies or boxing. Yes, those elements are what have made this movie one that has made many manly men freely admit to crying manly man tears over. I f*^king hate sports. All sports. Especially boxing! Rocky isn’t really a sports movie and it has about as much actual boxing in it as British households have on Boxing Day (which is probably a little bit as family get-togethers at Christmastime can be very stressful). Seriously – I decided to torture myself by watching this & Million Dollar Baby over the same weekend back in February. Million Dollar Baby has a million times more boxing in it (but still not loads). However, I ended up loving them both. So, if I can like two “boxing movies” (that aren’t really about boxing), I promise that you can too! And one is a feelgood movie and one is depressing as f*^k but both are good. (But critics probably prefer the depressing one, as I previously bitched about in this review already). Where was I? Rambling, as always. There’s hardly any boxing in Rocky. Just FYI. Who knew??? (But I still don’t like Raging Bull very much. Certainly not a feelgood movie and probably a miserable critic favorite).

Oh! Burgess Meredith! I love Burgess Meredith. He was actually the biggest reason I wanted to finally make myself watch this film. And he’s great in the role of Rocky’s trainer. He’s perfect. I badly want to watch all the Rocky films now (but I’m waiting for hubby to make the time since he says he wants to watch them with me. Hint hint). I’m not stupid and know the rest aren’t meant to be great but I want to see what happens and I’m hoping Meredith has a bigger part in the second film. But….. I’m not sure what happens beyond that (other than finally getting to hear Eye Of The Tiger in, what, number three?). I’ve done my best to avoid the Rocky series spoilers this long but it hasn’t been easy!!! FYI: don’t read the synopsis for Creed if you KNOW NOTHING because I actually didn’t know… Something about someone. Ha. Damn. All I know is that Rocky & Adrian better stay together throughout them all or I’m going to be seriously pissed off (don’t tell me).

You gotta love Rocky & Adrian’s relationship. I loved those two crazy kids and their weird ass romance. It was sweet. And a little nerdy. They’re made for each other. Hollywood nepotism gets on my nerves but these two are such a perfect match that I’ll let that “how many f*^king Coppolas ARE there?!” thing with Talia Shire slide. At least her then-husband didn’t compose the music for the film, as originally planned. Can you imagine having Rocky without Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now song? No. You cannot. That song and its montage scene is one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Oh, and Carl Weathers was cool too. I look forward to seeing him in more in this series (He IS in more, right? How many? More than Meredith?? Wait. No. Don’t tell me).

Summary:

Rocky is good. Rocky makes grown men cry for some strange reason. I can’t claim to have gotten at all misty-eyed while watching it and I won’t pretend that I fully connected with it or that it moved me in the way it has moved a lot of (mainly male) viewers. However, it deserves the love it still receives to this day and I can fully understand why some people love it. It’s one that all film lovers should watch at least once if they want to continue calling themselves film lovers. No, it’s not a new all-time favorite of mine personally but I enjoyed it and I especially liked the characters, which is the most important thing to me when it comes to movies. Rocky lives up to its reputation and slightly exceeded my expectations.

My Rating: 8.5/10

*I saw this movie back in February and I’ve only seen it the one time so hopefully all these pictures I used are from the first movie & not the sequels or else some Rocky-loving dude will probably come along & yell at me… 😉

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Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

The Hustler (1961) Blind Spot Review

Today would have been Paul Newman’s birthday, so I’m reviewing his film The Hustler for my Blind Spot 2017 Series as well as my IMDB Top 250 Project. Like many classics, this was in the Top 250 when I started the project on 01/01/13 but is currently not on the list.

Let’s see what I thought of The Hustler (as well as its 1986 sequel The Color Of Money, which I’m reviewing tomorrow)…

The Hustler (1961)

Directed by Robert Rossen

Based on The Hustler by Walter Tevis

Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Stefan Gierasch, Clifford Pellow, Jake LaMotta

IMDB Rank: 197 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Hustler tells the story of small-time pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson and his desire to break into the “major league” of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country; seeking to best the legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats.”

My Opinion:

Paul Newman was so damn hot. What a hunk. I lusted after him through this whole movie. It’s quite disappointing that it’s in black & white because I like seeing those baby blue eyes of his in color. But even in black & white, he’s still dreamy. *sigh*

The Hustler is very good and I can see why it’s a classic and it totally sucks that current films keep knocking old films such as this one out of the IMDB Top 250. I can sort of understand why, though, as I’m guilty myself of not exploring many movies that are pre-1970 or so but it does annoy me that most young people want to watch nothing but current stuff these days. Anyway, I enjoyed The Hustler and the acting is phenomenal, which I think it what makes this one such a classic. Surprisingly, though, it was Piper Laurie who stole the show. Wow. More about her later…

Newman was his usual self: Full of charm & charisma. He was such a great actor and one of only a handful over the years who I feel had that extra “something” that made him my definition of a true movie star. You know that “something” that’s hard to explain? I feel that “something” is missing from most artists nowadays (especially within the music industry – even more so than in film). I haven’t explored as much of Newman’s work as I’d like but I can now say that The Hustler is a must-see for anyone wanting to see him in his best roles. There’s more than just his usual charm & charisma here – he’s a lonely, complex character and the movie truly comes alive when he becomes involved with Piper Laurie’s similarly lost soul.

Newman is fantastic and it’s a shame he didn’t win the Oscar but Laurie is stunning. I’m glad, like Newman, that she also got a nomination but it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more recognition for this role. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know she was in The Hustler! I’ll also be totally honest & admit that I’ve never really known her as anything other than Margaret White in Carrie. I LOVE her in Carrie (she easily topped my list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies). Who knew she could play a disturbed character with such sympathetic subtlety in The Hustler just as well as she did full-on batshit crazy in Carrie?? I love her in both roles but have a new respect for her – I’m very glad I got to see this performance.

Clearly the relationship between Newman & Laurie is what I latched onto and what made the movie for me but there are of course some other important characters and, yes – plenty of pool. The two really worth mentioning are Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats”, a brilliant pool-playing rival to Newman, and George C. Scott as an evil, greedy bastard. Seriously – what a dick. I wanted to punch him in the face. Therefore, I guess he played his role well!

Summary:

The Hustler is worthy of its status as a classic and it’s a great way to kick off my choice of 2017 Blind Spot films. I admit, however, that it did drag for me at times in a way that older movies often do for those who have mostly watched post-1970 movies (like me). I have zero interest whatsoever in pool and, while this movie is not actually about pool and more about human interaction, there’s still plenty of pool. Some will of course love the actual pool scenes but the final game of pool is the only one that really matters and the one that fully held my attention. The movie is a little slow-going at first but the phenomenal performances from all involved, especially from Newman & Laurie, make the second half of the film intense & gripping. The Hustler is well worth your time if you have an interest in old Hollywood classics.

My Rating: 8/10

My 2017 Blog Resolutions 

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re all having a good 2017 so far. (Okay – it’s the 10th of January. I’m done saying “Happy New Year”). 😉

Like most people, I’ve made my own personal resolutions for 2017. I won’t share those here but they’re my main priority. However, I don’t want to abandon my “online movie diary” completely so I’ve decided on some things I’ll focus on this year in order to keep this blog going. Here are my 2017 Blog Resolutions:

Keep It Short

I ramble on too much (probably because I’m not a writer & I suck with words!). This has kept me from reviewing a lot of the (79!) movies I watched at home last year. This year, I’ll keep any reviews of non-current, meh movies very brief.

One Or Two Posts A Week

Simple: I’ll do a minimum of one or two posts a week. Some weeks there will be more but I won’t stress if I only manage one. I’ll mainly post Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays.

Blind Spot Movie Reviews

The one blog commitment I didn’t come to regret in 2016 was watching & reviewing the 12 Blind Spot Movies that I chose last January. This is one of my main blog resolutions that I plan to stick to again this year. I’ll be posting my 2017 Blind Spot Choices tomorrow.

Reviews Of New Releases

I’ll again do my best to at least review all the current movie releases that I go to see this year. I’m always pretty good about keeping on top of this so it’s my other main commitment along with doing Blind Spot reviews.

IMDB Top 250 Project

This has been almost entirely on hold for the past couple of years. I no longer want any guest reviews as some became too much of a headache. But I do, from the bottom of my heart, thank those of you who fulfilled your guest review commitments at least once. Sincerely. *Hugssssss!* I got a lot of excellent classics reviewed on my blog thanks to you guys (and it gave me the opportunity to be very lazy for over a year with a guaranteed weekly post I didn’t have to write). 😉 I’m now going to go back to doing this on my own but I’m in no rush. By now, I’ve watched the majority of the Top 250 films that I actually WANT to watch. So I’ll make my goal, hmm… To watch & review four IMDB Top 250 Movies this year. Think I can manage that!

Top Ten Lists

I’ll still do these but not on a regular basis. When I do, I’ll probably continue to post them on a Thursday.

Books & Reviews

I tend to read about one book per month & I kept on top of reviewing them all in 2016. I’ll continue to try to do this but I’ll make my book reviews very brief as well. 

Themed Weeks/Months

I enjoy doing themed weeks and/or months on my blog but I won’t commit to definitely doing any this year. If I’m in the mood & if I have the time, these are the ones I keep toying with:

Studio Ghibli Week: I already devoted all of January 2015 to Studio Ghibli but have since been working my way through the non-Miyazaki films as well. I’ve watched five already so I’ll review them all one week. Probably. I already started 2017 by watching Arrietty. 🙂

Akira Kurosawa Week: I keep putting this off as I don’t know how to go about reviewing these fantastic films (I’ve only watched three so far). But I’ve just bought myself a lovely blu-ray set of five of his samurai films (it was cheap!) so, maybe one week by the year 2021, I’ll actually review all the Kurosawa films that I’ve watched.

John Carpenter Week: Another thing I’ve been putting off for two years! I have, however, watched plenty of his movies in preparation. One of these weeks…. BAM! I’ll suddenly review them all. Maybe. We’ll see.

New York City Week: I’ve watched so many movies based in NYC in the past year & have saved them up to devote a week to reviewing them. 

Rocky Week: To kill two birds with one stone, I’m putting the IMDB Top 250 film Rocky on my Blind Spot list. But, as the hubby keeps telling me how good Creed was, I figure I better watch all the Rocky movies first, right?? Ugh. Are there seven? Well, I’ll try! I do have them all available so I might as well. Considering how much I ended up enjoying Clint Eastwood Week last year, I’m bizarrely looking forward to watching all the Rocky “guy” movies. I’m a weird chick…

Non-Disney, Non-Pixar, Non-Ghibli Animation Month: One thing I really want to focus on is watching more animated films that aren’t necessarily “kids’ films” (although some will be). I’m talking about things such as Ralph Bakshi movies & non-Ghibli Japanese anime. There are also some movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for years, such as Watership Down. I have quite a long list, however, so it’s likely that I’ll watch what I can this year but not review anything until 2018. Hmm… 2018 resolution?! I’ve not even had a chance to break all my 2017 ones yet!

Well. That’s it. So much for my “Keep It Short” resolution!!! There – I’ve broken one already… See you tomorrow with my Blind Spot Choices. 🙂

The Graduate (1967) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks for the review, Satu! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of The Graduate, IMDB rank 186 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. The deadline is November 1st. The available films are:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
Gone with the Wind 1939
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

See the full Top 250 list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

The Graduate (1967)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (& Charles Webb (novel))
Starring Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft

Synopsis: “A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

It’s been a while since I saw The Graduate but I didn’t really like it. It bothers me that I don’t know what it is. A drama or a comedy? Is it supposed to be funny? Shocking? I don’t usually care that much but I just don’t get the hype of this film. It won an Oscar for the best directing. It was nominated in seven different categories and I have absolutely no idea why it won in that one? I know that Bonnie & Clyde that was multi-nominated that year too was much more interesting to watch.

The first thing that sticks out in The Graduate is lensing aka cinematography. It’s annoying as hell! Gosh. It drove me nuts. What are those freaking all-the-time weird shots? It feels so messy and to me it ruined most of the film. Then again, if the point was making life seem messy and pointless, it worked. And come to think of it now, it probably was the point if the viewer should feel like via main character? Huh. Kinda cool. But when watching, it didn’t work for me. The colour world was also ugly to my eye. Although, at the same time I can understand that it must have looked intriguing at the time. I especially hated that dolly shot in the end. Didn’t do good for our leading man. Ugh.

To my eyes, in this millennium, Dustin Hoffman looks way too old to be viewed as way too young compared to Anne Bancroft. And I don’t really like him anyway. I did like him in Rain Man and as Hook, I guess, but usually I find him like he would be good at playing vicious rodent and rodents are not cool. But I still guess he did nice job in this one. He felt bored and innocent at the same time. To me Anne Bancroft was even better at playing alcoholic house-wife. I don’t know, maybe it was somewhat easier to relate to her character, I would be bored out of my mind in a situation like that. In the end, it was very hard to like any of the characters in The Graduate. They’re not very likeable. That’s probably one of the main reasons why I didn’t enjoy the film that much. One needs to feel sympathetic.

My final grading is not that bad as I made it sound now but I’m still glad that The Graduate is not anymore in IMDb Top-250 like it was when this challenge was established. Maybe there are some people like me who think it is a bit over-appreciated.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) & For A Few Dollars More (1965) IMDB Top 250 Reviews

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 86 today! 🙂

My blog is having a Clint Eastwood Week (I reviewed Play Misty For Me yesterday). And I figured what better way to celebrate his birthday today than to review his famous Dollars Trilogy for my IMDB Top 250 Project as they’re all in the 250. Well, I already recently reviewed The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (you can see that review HERE). I didn’t realize it was the “third” in the trilogy when I watched it first but it really doesn’t matter as the stories aren’t connected (they just have the same director & composer plus the main actor playing a different character in each). It was interesting seeing their “evolution”, however, as I think each film was better than the previous one. Let’s start by talking about the first in the trilogy: A Fistful Of Dollars.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volontè, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, Joseph Egger

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

My Opinion:

I had no idea that this movie is basically the Yojimbo story by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima (but not credited at the time, apparently). That’s interesting – there are a lot of Kurosawa films in the Top 250 & I’m very eager to work my way through them as I love Seven Samurai. So far, I’ve watched Ikiru & Rashômon so I’ll make Yojimbo the next one (I’ll have a Kurosawa Week once I’ve watched them all). I really liked the story of a drifter playing two rival families off against each other so am looking forward to seeing the original & comparing them.

I get the impression that some people may slightly prefer these first two Dollars films to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. As I said above, I personally think each film got better & that the final one is the best but the first two do have much better pacing, less distracting voice dubbing, and stories that are easier to follow & that actually get right into things from the start instead of meandering along for almost three hours until reaching a fantastic finale.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the only one I’d call a “masterpiece” but these first two are also very good in a different way & are much more straightforward in telling their stories, which some people may prefer. There’s still a fair amount of time spent on characters standing around & staring at each other but it wasn’t yet to the extreme Leone went to in Once Upon A Time In The West. No, I’m not being a smart ass because I think that film is brilliant – the opening scene honestly contains the best staring ever committed to film. Here you go – the Once Upon A Time In The West staredown!

But back to A Fistful Of Dollars… I did find this the weakest of the three, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t really connect with or care about any of the characters (other than one family with a small boy) whereas the next film had a better revenge theme going on that I found more interesting & also had a good partnership that this one lacked. There’s plenty here for dudes, though – lots of fighting (with & without guns) and the usual amount of Clint Eastwood just looking like a stud while smoking & wearing a poncho. Eastwood IS very cool in these spaghetti Westerns, whether they’re your sort of thing or not, and has a great presence that not all actors manage (but is matched by his co-star in the second film). I now have less experience with his Dirty Harry movies than his Westerns but I think the Westerns suit him better.

This film does of course have yet another great showdown (as to be expected at the end of every Leone film I’ve seen so far). To say it’s the weakest of the three (or four if I include West as well) isn’t really a bad thing as all the Leone films I’ve now seen are fantastic & I can understand why they’re so popular even though this isn’t my favorite genre so I’ll never love them to the same degree as fans.

My Rating: 7/10

For a Few Dollars More (1965) (Italian: Per qualche dollaro in più)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

My Opinion:

Now… For A Few Dollars More was genuinely enjoyable! Don’t get me wrong – I think these Leone films are beautiful works of art and worthy of the praise & recognition they later achieved but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find them all a bit of a chore to sit through. Of all four I’ve seen, I’d rank this as the third best yet I’d also say it’s the most enjoyable overall in that it’s the only one that held my interest the entire time.

It’s a simple (if rather cliché) story of revenge but, hey – that’s what I want from a Western. The one seeking revenge is Lee Van Cleef’s character. And what a great character he is! It’s the only time another character felt as important as Eastwood’s (if not more) and I cared about his story. The two of them are fantastic together & have amazing chemistry onscreen. He was also the “Bad” to Eastwood’s “Good” in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but this was a much better role for him & I preferred their relationship in this.

Another thing that worked a bit better in this one than the previous film was the main baddie. He’s an evil bastard but also not quite right in the head & haunted by things in his past. He felt more developed than a lot of Western baddies. Actually, all the characters felt more well developed than usual (other than Eastwood’s but I think that’s always the whole point of his mysterious Man With No Name characters). That’s a big part of what made this film the most enjoyable – I can’t fully get into a film unless I buy into the characters & the story and this film did a good job with these elements.

Okay – I’ve not yet mentioned the Ennio Morricone score for either of these films. I don’t want to go on & on as I already raved about him in my review for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but, damn, the man is a genius. There were no specific themes that stood out for me as much as in that one but the music truly helps make all these Leone spaghetti Westerns. Without the scores, I know I wouldn’t personally rate any of these movies as highly. The score is as important to these films as is Eastwood’s character & Leone’s cinematography. They all work perfectly together & make these films far greater than they’d be with one of these three elements missing.

Well, I think I’ve said enough about these movies. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on Westerns but the four Leone films I’ve seen really are something special & definitely have my appreciation as beautiful works of art. I do think that each movie got better & better with Once Upon A Time In The West actually being the best overall. However, I’d probably stick with The Good, The Bad And The Ugly being my favorite as I think the score as well as the final 30 minutes or so of that film easily tops all others & pushes it into the “masterpiece” category that I don’t like to use as a label too often (if you’re curious, I gave both those movies a score of 8/10). I highly recommend both of those films at the very least but, if you want to start a bit smaller, the first two Dollars films are more easily “digestible” & For A Few Dollars More is probably the best one for non-Western lovers as I think a lot of people love a basic story of revenge.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Paths Of Glory & On The Waterfront IMDB Top 250 Reviews

These are my final two IMDB Top 250 Project movies I’ve watched but not yet reviewed (not counting the Clint Eastwood or the Akira Kurosawa films, which I plan to review all together). So from now on I’ll only be reviewing movies for this project on the occasional Tuesday as I happen watch more of them. My Tuesdays are now free! What the heck am I going to post weekly instead of these Top 250 reviews?!? Hmm. Most likely, nothing. I like the idea of a blog-free weekday!

I’ve put off “reviewing” these two as I don’t have much to say about them. They didn’t connect with me like so many of the films that I’ve watched for this project have. I understand why they’re classics & agree that they do deserve to be in the Top 250, though, despite them not working for me. Hey – we can’t all love the same movies! What a boring world this would be if that was the case.

So I’m going to say a very small bit about each film now just to get them off my list. Here you go: Two short paragraphs each for two all-time classics I’m clearly not cultured enough to have fully appreciated! 😉

Paths Of Glory (1957)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson

Plot Synopsis:
Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack. Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

Wow – I, um, believe this is the only Kirk Douglas movie I’ve ever seen. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t watching Michael Douglas as they’re so similar (I suck). At least I’ve added another Stanley Kubrick to my list of movies seen (I’ve ranked his films HERE – I need to add in Full Metal Jacket at five while Paths Of Glory would be at six).

I preferred Paths Of Glory to On The Waterfront. The pacing was pretty slow so I’ll fully admit that my uncultured, non-war-movie-loving mind wandered quite often but it did have an overall story that I found far more compelling than that in On The Waterfront. I won’t give away the full story for those who know nothing about this but it’s something that should have moved me a bit more than it did. I think that, perhaps, they didn’t spend enough time developing a few characters who really deserved to have more time spent on them. I’ll say that Douglas was great in this so, yes, I really should watch at least one other movie he’s been in. The novel was based on a true story & this practice (what happens in the film) was done during World War I from what I can tell of the very little I read of this movie at Wikipedia (war experts can feel free to chime in on this). I don’t know how often this tactic was used but it’s truly appalling & the movie did finally have my full attention at the end. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what the outcome would be – I don’t know how I managed to avoid such a huge movie spoiler for all these years. Paths Of Glory is a film deserving of all its praise with great performances & a very important topic that needed to be brought to light (apparently this movie was fairly controversial at the time as it’s a pretty anti-war film). It’s just not my type of thing but I’d certainly not disagree with anyone who says they love it as I can see it being a favorite film for some people. For all lovers of war movies, it’s a must-see.

My Rating: 7/10

On The Waterfront (1954)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint

Music by Leonard BernsteinIt’s the end of the world as we know it! (And I feel fine)

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

I watched this movie on September 9th, 2014. It’s taken me almost two years to muster up the (strength? courage??) to do a little write-up for it. I remember sticking this movie on & kind of half-watching it while doing some housework then finishing it later while in bed. This is when we were working on painting a wall in the bedroom so a big cabinet was in the middle of the room & partially blocking my view of the TV from the bed. So, yeah… this is how I watched On The Waterfront – a huge Oscar-winning, beloved classic. What can I say? I have no class. I’m a bum!

Umm. Unions? Mobs? I think I remember some pigeons. Marlon Brando! He’s in this. I haven’t watched a lot of Brando’s films (but at least I’ve watched more Brando films than Kirk Douglas films). Let’s see: I’ve seen this, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Superman. That’s it. I’m not a fan. Should I delete my blog? Will some big Brando fan come along to yell at me & tell me that my blog should be “taken down” like the Western-loving guy who commented on my review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? As much as I’ve moaned about having to watch all the war movies & Westerns in the Top 250, I’ve ended up really liking the ones I’ve watched so far (some are even favorites now, like The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Good, The Bad And The Ugly). So maybe I can’t keep saying they’re “not my type of thing”? The story in On The Waterfront, however, is what I think really isn’t my type of thing. It didn’t connect. I’ve never really gone for movies involving the mob in some way or for this type of drama. When it comes to older films, I prefer the “grand epics” to the types of films involving true-to-life human conflict with Oscar-worthy performances and lots of talking & drama. I find something like a Morricone score coupled with beautiful cinematography far more moving than an intense performance from an actor/actress. That’s just me – we’re all moved by different things & I’m not one to care too much about the “acting” in a movie (as long as the performances don’t totally suck). Brando is great in this, yeah. I didn’t follow the story very well or really find myself caring about any of the characters. I don’t remember it much now but that’s to be expected, I suppose, when you are only partially paying attention to a movie while it’s on. On The Waterfront won loads of Oscars (best picture, director, actor, supporting actress, screenplay, cinematography, art direction & film editing). Oh shit… That’s really a lot of Oscars. I’m going to delete my blog. I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it! *blog deleted* (Let’s go ahead & give this the same rating as Paths Of Glory, although I preferred that one. I’m sorry! Don’t hurt my pigeons!)

My Rating: 7/10

**If you can’t bear to see nothing posted on this blog on a Tuesday, here are the remaining films available for guest reviews:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

A Separation (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review & The Films I’ve Watched So Far (Ranked!)

*This is a very short review so I’ve decided to also rank all 42 films I’ve watched so far for my Top 250 Project. Woohoo! 😉

IMG_9826

A Separation (2011) (Persian: جدایی نادر از سیمین‎ Jodaí-e Nadér az Simín, “The Separation of Nader and Simin”)

Directed by Asghar Farhadi

Starring: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Merila Zarei

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Separation is a 2011 Iranian drama that focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class care giver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

My Very Quickie Opinion:

I watched this movie on August 9th, 2014. Whoops! Is it really taking me almost two years to get around to reviewing some of these Top 250 films?? Yikes. 

This is truly going to be a quickie “review” as I don’t remember this film very well (I had to read the full plot synopsis online just now to refresh my memory). This is a very good film, so I can see why it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. It’s a drama with great performances from all involved but it just isn’t my type of thing. I rarely like realistic dramas. I watch movies for escapism, which is probably why a lot of my favorites are sci-fi or fantasy.

I remember thinking the two main actors (the separating husband & wife) were especially good & I felt for their situation, particularly the husband struggling with taking care of his father who has Alzheimer’s. I won’t give away the plot but something happens with the woman who is hired to take care of the husband’s father and that’s just one of several stories woven together. It’s good in that most people watching this will relate to at least one of the stories/characters: whether it’s dealing with an aging parent, marital problems, religious beliefs & customs, etc. I didn’t relate to it any more or any less than I do to American films dealing with the same sort of issues. The themes are universal so it’s certainly worth a watch if this genre is your sort of thing – don’t let it being a foreign language film or my “meh” review put you off. It’s a good, Oscar-worthy film. But it’s just not my favorite genre. Once again, my ratings are based more on personal enjoyment than “worthiness” – I’d rate this one more highly if I rated only on worthiness.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Well, watching A Separation got another Top 250 film crossed off my list & I did say at the start that some might not get lengthy reviews from me. I started this project (details HERE) on 01/01/2013 & my goal is to watch all the IMDB Top 250 movies that I hadn’t yet seen at that point (I’d already seen 100 – those 100 are the ones I’ve let guests review). So I’m very slowly working my way through the rest of that 2013 list. I’ve watched 42 of the remaining 150.

As this review was so short, I thought I’d rank the 42 films I’ve watched so far. Because I’m sad like that. 😉 It’s quite obvious that the ones I’ve loved the most are the Studio Ghibli & the Charlie Chaplin films. I’d already watched a couple of Ghibli films when I started this but I do have this project to thank for introducing me to Chaplin. 🙂

I did keep some Top 250 favorites of mine to be reviewed by me someday instead of guests – things like The Shawshank Redemption & WALL-E (which I did review) and the Star Wars original trilogy & The Princess Bride. This list is only ranking the films I’ve watched since starting this project, not the 100 I’d already seen in the past. Most of my all-time favorite films are in the Top 250 – I just struggle to write about the ones I really love so I haven’t reviewed many of those. How could a review of mine ever express just how awesome Aliens or The Princess Bride are?! 🙂

So here are My IMDB Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite): (and I rated them all, too! I need a life…)

42-31:

42. Mary And Max – watched 7/6/13 – Rating: 4/10

41. Slumdog Millionaire – watched 28/4/13 – Rating: 5/10

40. Life Of Pi – watched 15/1/13 – Rating: 6.5/10

39. Warrior – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6/10

38. A Separation – watched 9/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

37. On The Waterfront – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

36. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – watched 24/3/13 – Rating: 7/10

35. Paths Of Glory – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6.5/10

34. Raging Bull – watched 29/9/13 – Rating: 7/10

33. Unforgiven – watched 17/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

32. Dog Day Afternoon – watched 18/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

31. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – watched 26/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

Top Thirty:

30. Anatomy Of A Murder – watched 2/8/15 – Rating: 7/10

29. Witness For The Prosecution – watched 12/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

28. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

27. A Fistful Of Dollars – watched 28/4/16 – Rating: 7/10

26. Sleuth – watched 5/2/13 – Rating: 7/10

25. City Of God – watched 18/1/14 – Rating: 8/10

24. Bicycle Thieves – watched 5/6/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

23. Rashômon – watched 16/8/14 – Rating: 7/10

22. Shadow Of A Doubt – watched 5/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

21. Notorious – watched 6/5/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

Top Twenty:

20. Sunset Boulevard – watched 7/11/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

19. For A Few Dollars More – watched 14/5/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

18. Rope – watched 4/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

17. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) – watched 14/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

16. Ikiru – watched 1/1/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

15. Nosferatu (1922) – watched 14/7/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

14. M – watched 26/9/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

13. Once Upon A Time In The West – watched 02/07/13 – Rating: 8/10

12. Full Metal Jacket – watched 11/5/14 – Rating: 8/10

11. The Secret In Their Eyes – watched 23/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

Top Ten:

10. The Kid – watched 19/2/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

9. Grave Of The Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) – watched 1/1/15 – Rating: 8/10

8. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – watched 16/2/16 – Rating: 8/10

7. The Great Escape – watched 28/10/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

6. The Bridge On The River Kwai – watched 23/6/13 – Rating: 9/10

5. Laputa: Castle In The Sky – watched 7/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

4. Princess Mononoke – watched 25/1/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

3. Modern Times – watched 1/1/13 – Rating: 9/10

2. City Lights – watched 15/2/13 – Rating: 9/10

1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) – watched 2/11/14 – Rating: 9/10

I highly recommend my Top Ten. No… I highly recommend 38 of these! There are so many true classics here. The bottom four don’t deserve a place in the Top 250 (but I only hated the bottom two – 39 & 40 are decent enough movies). I have to say that the top three are extra special to me & instantly became all-time favorites of mine. It’s sometimes a struggle to “force” myself to watch classic films such as these but I’m rarely disappointed when I do finally make the time for them. 🙂

Sunset Boulevard (1950) IMDB Top 250 Review

I’m back with one of my own IMDB Top 250 reviews! Let’s have a look at Sunset Blvd… 🙂

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Directed by Billy Wilder

Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough

IMDB Rank: 51 out of 250

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, an unsuccessful screenwriter, and Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, a faded silent movie star who draws him into her fantasy world where she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen.

My Opinion:

At least I watched this Top 250 movie slightly more recently than the last one I reviewed (Warrior). I watched this on the 7th of November, 2015. I’m catching up! Unlike Warrior, this is an all-time classic that deserves its place in the IMDB Top 250. Although it’s not very “me” or one I’ll ever consider a favorite at this point, it’s easy to see why it’s so appreciated by true film lovers given its themes and its exploration of the movie industry & stardom. Plus the story of a faded starlet, a woman who has aged, is sadly still just as relevant of an issue nowadays. But things are improving somewhat, I think. We’ll get there one of these days, ladies! Let’s do this! Equal rights!! Do I sound like Patricia Arquette? I hope so! She’s great. 🙂

First of all… Wow – I had no idea how much American Beauty owes to this film. Damn – American Beauty has just gone down slightly in my estimation. But Kevin Spacey is still great! I’m sure he’s a William Holden fan.

I really need to watch more older films like this one. I’m not sure why I find that so difficult – I started this project as a way to “force” myself to watch the old classics I’ve never seen. Therefore, the names in this don’t have as much meaning to me as they should. Look at this impressive list from Wikipedia:

The film stars William Holden and Gloria Swanson with Erich von Stroheim as Max Von Mayerling, her devoted servant. Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough and Jack Webb play supporting roles. Director Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper play themselves, and the film includes cameo appearances by leading silent film actors Buster Keaton, H. B. Warner and Anna Q. Nilsson.

I should know more of those people but I only instantly recognized a couple of names. William Holden was in plenty of films but I never really noticed him until I watched The Bridge On The River Kwai for this project (which I loved – it’s one of my favorite “new discoveries”). I really enjoyed his performance in this.

I knew that Gloria Swanson was a star long before this film, which is why she was chosen for this, but this is certainly the only thing I’ve seen her in. Wow – she really is fantastic! I’m shocked that she didn’t win an Oscar for this. She was of course nominated but I just assumed she’d won. She was robbed!

If you’d asked me to name Cecil B. DeMille’s work before I looked him up just now, I’d have only been able to say The Ten Commandments. I’ve never seen any of his films. I’m so ashamed! I’m a sorry excuse for a movie blogger. I know of his name just as much from the extremely well-known “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” line in this (as do most people – it’s one of the all-time greatest movie quotes). And I love now knowing that the man playing Swanson’s butler in this movie used to direct her in real life. I didn’t know that either until I read this in IMDB trivia:

There are several references to Gloria Swanson’s actual career in the film. Norma’s butler, Max, who used to be one of her directors is played by Erich von Stroheim, who directed Swanson in the movie Queen Kelly, clips from which are used in the scene where Norma and Joe watch one of her old films. Norma goes to visit Cecile B DeMille, several of whose films she had starred in. Swanson had also starred in several DeMille films.

Summary:

Sunset Boulevard is a true classic. It’s very “clever” & well-written, but I think that’s a given since it’s a Billy Wilder film. It’s very self-referential and the way it satirizes the movie industry was apparently quite controversial at the time and makes this movie seem very ahead of its time. So many films are similar to Sunset Boulevard nowadays – it reminded me of things like the Coen Brothers films in the way those are written & of course the whole of Robert Altman’s The Player. It clearly has had a huge impact on many filmmakers and I’m glad I finally watched it. I can now say that I’ve seen four Billy Wilder films (Sunset Blvd, The Apartment, Witness For The Prosecution & Double Indemnity – yay, me!). Although I’d have to say that I didn’t love this one in the same way that I did The Apartment, this one is probably the best “film“. Sunset Boulevard is a movie that every true film lover should watch at least once, especially for Swanson’s performance. It deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it. Hey, as I always say: I rate these movies based on my own personal enjoyment. I enjoyed The Apartment more but there’s no denying Sunset Boulevard’s brilliance.

My Rating: 7.5/10

FYI – If anyone wants to do a guest Top 250 review, these are the films still available:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

Warrior (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review

The guest reviews have dried up so here I am again, finally reviewing another one of these for my own IMDB Top 250 project. You see, I’ve been super lazy on doing these reviews but not as lazy on actually watching the movies. So let’s discuss Warrior, which I watched on August 22nd 2015! This should be entertaining as I barely remember the damn thing… 😉

Warrior (2011)

Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Nick Nolte

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 153 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother.

My Opinion:

I remember this film having very good performances, totally dysfunctional family relationships, lots of fighting, and me falling asleep several times (especially during the long mixed martial arts tournament at the end). This movie is good but it didn’t work for me. Hey, that happens sometimes. Any regulars here will know that I give ratings mostly based on my own personal enjoyment of a movie but do factor in a movie’s “worthiness” somewhat as well. Yes, it probably deserves higher praise than it will seem that I’m giving it. Let’s discuss the good things about it.

The performances. Most notably: Nick Nolte. He’s the best thing about this. He did get nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the estranged alcoholic father of Joel Edgerton & Tom Hardy and I think that nomination was well-deserved. A lot of people might say that Tom Hardy is the best thing about this and, yes, he’s very good too but Nolte’s performance was more memorable for me. I think Edgerton was probably unfairly ignored in this as he’s the most “together” of this estranged family while Hardy’s U.S. Marine & Nolte’s recovering alcoholic are thoroughly damaged individuals. The truly damaged characters always get the most attention but I think Edgerton & Hardy are equally good in this.

Can I just go off topic slightly & say that I’m always confusing Nick Nolte & Gary Busey? Like, I keep thinking “I really liked Nick Nolte in Point Break” then later realize that it was actually Gary Busey. Anyone else ever mix up a couple of actors? They were just in the same types of movies at the same sort of time and they look kind of similar. Busey was the crazy one, though, right? You know what Nolte movie I really like, though? Three Fugitives! I probably shouldn’t admit that… It’s one of my embarrassing guilty pleasures.

Where were we? Oh. Warrior. Yeah. As I said, it was almost a year ago that I watched it. Everyone in it was angry & depressed & damaged & had some sort of drama going on in their lives so the men relieved their stress by kicking each other’s asses. Edgerton was a lovely father & husband, though.

Okay – there’s no point in me rambling on as I’m just trying to tick these unseen IMDB Top 250 movies off my list. Watch them, write a tiny bit about each, and move on. Does this deserve to be in the Top 250 alongside some of the absolute classic films on the list? Of course not. It IS a very good film with fantastic performances but it’s no The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (the last Top 250 film I reviewed which, although also not my type of “thing”, I gave an extremely positive review as there was no denying its moments of pure genius).

I’d never disagree with anyone who does love this film as I can easily understand its appeal. I’d also most definitely recommend it to either gender but, yes, mostly to males who like movies such as Rocky as this is aimed more at them. I’ll admit this now: I also have yet to watch Rocky for this project but I’ve seen enough bits & pieces of that film over the years to know it’s not just about “guys beating each other up”. If it was, it wouldn’t be so highly regarded. Warrior is exactly the same: it’s a film about the characters, their relationships, determination, and overcoming the odds. The mixed martial arts is just the backdrop but, hey, that makes it a far more entertaining film for those who like that sort of thing. It’s predictable & there are a lot of clichés but they’re forgivable as the three central performances are so good. This is the equivalent of a chick flick for men although no one would probably dare say that as “chick flicks” get a bad rap. I like the occasional chick flick the same way I like any clichéd feel-good movie and Warrior is truly no different – it just transcends these faults thanks to the strong characters. Its IMDB rating is 8.2 so don’t let my opinion put you off.

My Rating: 6/10


The Help (2011) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Natasha of Life Of This City Girl. Thanks for the review, Natasha! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of The Help, IMDB rank 234 out of 250…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Movie Review: The Help (2011)

Plot: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Rating: 8.5/10

Hey, T9M readers! I’m reviewing The Help here today, because when I saw it was on T9M’s remaining movies to review for her IMDb Top 250 challenge I greedily claimed it as my own, seeing my chance to finally watch it.

I was surprised. Not only is The Help a really good film, it is also right up my alley and has stayed with me since I saw it.

What works well for this film first and foremost is a fantastic cast. To name a few, but certainly not limited to, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Allison Janney to Anna Camp all came to life as some form of a Southern Belle working to adjust to changing times.

The Help focuses on a time in America when things were changing. Women were entering the workforce, they were suddenly allowed to have bigger dreams than being barefoot and pregnant, and alongside that liberation came a movement where people realized that black people also had rights. Shocking, I know. Idiots. That’s where Skeeter Phelan comes in – she’s recently graduated and in look of making a name for herself. She moves back to Jacksonville, her home town that has not progressed with racial equality at all, and starts working a dead end job writing housekeeping tips for the local newspaper. Skeeter seeks to find the nanny who raised her, a woman whose disappearance makes her very worried – this is the woman that truly raised her, not her scatterbrained and often mean spirited mother. This leads her to embark on a project that records the tales of the black women who raise white children while their own sit at home.

In a very idealistic fashion, The Help isn’t particularly violent. I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence at all. There is a time and place for it and only in certain films, and I get upset especially when it involves minorities being beaten down. Django Unchained is pretty much the threshold for me, and let me tell you, as much as I love Tarantino, that film was almost too much to watch. The Help tells and accurately depicts inequality without making it an unnecessary blood fest nor a pity party, and yet you walk away feeling definitely disgusted with white ancestry. I saw that a lot of people did feel that the movie fancily glosses over the atrocities that happened and I do agree on that point though.

I liked the most that there were some genuinely sweet white people that offset the heinous racists that were also depicted. Jessica Chastain plays the particularly kind Cecilia Foote, who has been shunned because she’s just a bit too attractive and fun loving for Hilly Holbrook, excellently brought to life by Bryce Dallas Howard. Hilly is racist and underhanded, using her status in town to control everything– social events, treatment of staff and generally just getting her way in everything. The good tries to offset the bad, but it is still so obvious about how unjust the system was – I recently saw that it was a time period where it was finally acknowledged that black people deserved rights, just not quite as many as white people. I’m not going to go all swearing about this, because I am guest blogging here, but you can please include a number of profanities to gather my opinion about this.

Most of all, the end impressed me – things do not end perfectly for Phelan. After successfully publishing her novel, Phelan is shunned by many in town, including her boyfriend, but since he was a pompous, primitive prick from the very start I’m not feeling that she’s missing out on something special. It shows that actions have consequences, even when the action was required and did something good.

If you are looking for a film that accurately portrays inequality in the 1950’s, this probably isn’t for you. The Help is mostly feel good with some bad moments between, a very well-produced and acted out film for this. Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for this and it is well deserved – her sassy attitude is a scene stealer every single time. I’m likely to watch it again at some point, and am pretty glad that I took the time to watch this.

Thanks for having me lady!

Black Swan (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Jia Wei of Film & Nuance. Thanks for the review, Jia Wei! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Black Swan, IMDB rank 177 out of 250 on 01/01/13…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Black Swan: Reveries and desires

Ask me to name a list of movies that have profoundly disturbed me for the longest time and you will find Black Swan gracing the very top; Oh you know because swans are graceful and all. Did you find that funny? Because that’s the only funny thing you’ll see from this review and from the movie. Darren Aronofsky’s dark reverie of a film proliferates ideas of duality, the yin-yang of human nature and it’s inherent dichotomies between good and evil. An opening shot of Black Swan is a memorable dance sequence involving Natalie Portman’ as she performs the Swan Lake where the princess Odette is cursed and transfigured into a swan by the devilish Rothbart. It is hauntingly choreographed by Aronofsky whose brilliance we see throughout the film. What’s particularly symbolic here is how the ‘swan’ persona, which becomes the crucial metaphor throughout the film, is at once both graceful and cursed; A little something to note when interpreting the film. Black Swan is like art that slowly unwraps itself with every deliberate attempt to shock and traumatize, revealing the tragic poise it so gracefully holds.

Aronofsky is definitely the artist who isn’t afraid to show. In fact, his philosophy here is that if he could expose everything, he would. Psychological elements flood the film till the point where truth and reality are bent to fit the style. Potraits would come alive (think sinister version of Harry Potter talking paintings) and mock Nina’s increasingly blurry perception. Hallucinations allow Aronofsky to feed the emotional conflict and mental delusions. Black Swan is not for the faint of heart because around every dark corner lie monsters of the mind.

Black Swan’s methods may be extremely explicit but it’s themes are cuttingly profound. Some call it a passionate melodrama which I think doesn’t do the film justice. Melodrama connotates dragging…the kind of dragging that irritates but sure perhaps it’s also artistic. I beg to differ. For as much as Black Swan has deliberated it’s hypnotic sequences and emotional conflicts, it has also haunted my senses and heightened my anticipation for the tension that would ensure. That alone is enough to dispel the idea that it’s a tedious and melodramatic affair. Yes, it’s hyperactive and yes it’s visually unrestrained but damn, it’s one hell of a movie.

In my view, Friedrich Nietzche’s book on philosophy titled ‘The Birth Of A Tragedy’ is somewhat linked to the film in the sense that Black Swan’s interpretation lie in the way that nature and tragedy are set up to be. To be fair, there will be endless interpretations of the film and mine is just one out of many. But I think that in order to fully appreciate the beauty in what Natalie Portman has portrayed in Nina is essential. It is only through her flaws that I also see her complete beauty and only through the film’s depressing moments do I appreciate the fixed balance dichotomy between light and darkness, desire and repression, id and ego. Black Swan’s entrancing dance sequences relates somewhat to Nietzsche’s notes on greek tragedy and music; Notice how the ballads in the film rise and fall periodically, with crescendos and dimineundos that mirror Nina’s oscillating state of mind. Natalie Portman and her double do well to convey the the polar opposites of effeminate grace and unbridled release that torment Nina during her performances. She battles not her inner demons but her conflicted nature. I read that Aronofsky had many takes and rehearsals for his dance sequences. It’s no wonder that he was able to surface the raging tempest of the mind so well. Everything from flawless acting to musical lyricism to contrasting imageries of black and white pour out in perfect yet painful harmony. As each dance progressively becomes more challenging and demanding, so too do the lines between the black and white swan.

What is more powerful than pleasing the audience? Shocking them. I’m inclined to name a few more films like Under the skin and Mulholland Drive. It might just be my taste but there’s no point shocking someone without telling them why. Though the abovementioned films have got me jumping right out of my seat, Black Swan does it with brutal simplicity. It’s not abstract which is why I like it so so much. You don’t spend time wrecking your head thinking why Nina did this or that and instead are left to mull over the lasting consequences of the character’s actions. Black Swan’s may range from being a psycho-sexual study to a director’s symphonic masterpiece, but in the end, it’s destructive melancholy is a psychedelic look at our unresolved natures.

P.S. This was my second best movie of 2010 behind Inception. The Social Network is third. And The King’s Speech is nowhere to be seen 😉

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) IMDB Top 250 Review

Hi everyone! I’m finally doing my own IMDB Top 250 review again! I’ve been too lazy about doing these myself instead of just posting guest reviews… Let’s get started!

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)
Italian title: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè, Mario Brega, Eli Wallach

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

My Opinion:

First of all, I better point out that I shouldn’t be allowed to review a Western as I “clearly know nothing about them” and should just “delete” my blog (as an extremely angry, Western-loving troll told me in the comments of my review for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). Man I love trolls! And I always reply to them like a damn idiot.

Well, here’s a further reply to the issue my troll addressed: We all have a “first time” experience of EVERYTHING in life – why should we not be allowed to discuss something just because we don’t have a thoroughly extensive knowledge of it? I’m working my way through the IMDB Top 250, partly, to gain more knowledge of films that are seen as classics and to have a better understanding of those that are within the genres that I’ve not really explored before (mainly war movies & especially Westerns). So I apologize if I offend anyone by discussing yet another Western even though I haven’t managed to first watch “every Western known” like that troll has. Good for him! I’d rather watch a wide range of films from all kinds of different genres. (For the record, I gave The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance quite a positive review). Now onto my uneducated review of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

This is Western #5 for me out of the Top 250 and I’m afraid to say that I found it slightly disappointing after starting with Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (although I did like it more than The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid & Unforgiven). Personally, I thought West was a better film overall and enjoyed it more than this one. However, I believe West had a much larger budget so it’s not totally fair to compare the two. Also, I’ll say that this one has a brilliant ending and I absolutely loved the final half hour or so plus I of course couldn’t get enough of the amazing Morricone score. 

How the hell had Ennio Morricone not won an Oscar before this year?  He’s a true genius so, until this year’s Oscars, I’d always just assumed he’d won one before now. I didn’t further look into it until after seeing The Good, The Bad And The Ugly as I wanted to see who the hell managed to beat Morricone that year but the film wasn’t even nominated for any Oscars at all, let alone the score. This score wasn’t even nominated?!?! It’s a masterpiece! Stupid Academy… (Even IMDB users have more sense – this film is currently very high at number 9 out of 250)

This film is the third in what later became known as Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy“, which I did know but didn’t actually think to look at the order in which they came out & for some reason thought this was the first of three instead of the last. The other two are in the Top 250 as well so maybe I should’ve watched them in order? I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as the stories are unrelated & Eastwood has a different name in each but it would’ve been interesting to see how Leone’s movies developed over time.

For its time & budget, I realize that The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a damn masterpiece. I have to admit, though, that the dubbed dialogue is very distracting in this one. It’s not something I noticed as much in West but I suppose there were a lot more English-speaking actors in that one. Apparently Leone cared much more about the look of the film than the dialogue so all the dialogue was recorded in post-production.

However, I personally appreciate a “sweeping epic” such as The Good, The Bad And The Ugly with a beautiful score & visuals much more than, say, a modern-day, straightforward, documentary-style Oscar winner such as Spotlight. The two Leone films I’ve seen just say “now THIS is proper filmmaking!” to me. I guess it depends on what kind of movies you prefer but someone with zero experience of Spaghetti Westerns may struggle with the length, slow pace & bad dubbing of this film (I’m experienced – I have two Spaghetti Westerns under my belt now). 😉

As for Clint Eastwood, I do quite like him as an actor but never fully understood the appeal before (although I’m liking him even more recently after watching two great 70’s classics of his – Escape From Alcatraz & Play Misty For Me). I kind of understand the appeal now after finally seeing one of his classic Spaghetti Westerns. The dude is f*%#ing cool, okay? Look at him in that poncho! Look at the cool way that cigarette hangs out of his mouth!

After this movie, I thought “Damn – I wish Eastwood had played Harmonica in West instead of Charles Bronson”. Bronson is okay but Eastwood had that extra special something in the same way Harrison Ford had something special as Indiana Jones. I just read that Eastwood was offered the role of Harmonica but turned it down due to falling out with Leone. What a shame! I really liked Eastwood in this and he helps make this a classic along with “The Bad” and “The Ugly” – Lee Van Cleef & Eli Wallach, who are both also great in the film. I especially liked the relationship between Eastwood’s & Wallach’s “Good” & “Ugly” and the fact that you apparently couldn’t trust anyone in the Wild West.

Summary:

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a fantastic film and I can see why Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns are so highly regarded to this day. However, I’m not going to pretend that it’s now going to be an all-time favorite of mine. Yes, I found it overlong and too slow at times (I watched it off & on over two days while doing chores) plus it was very hard to not be distracted by that bad dubbing. But there are a lot of films like this that I almost like the thought of more than the actual film itself…

For example: I couldn’t stop thinking about The Man Who Fell To Earth after watching it – it looked cool as hell and David Bowie was this amazing otherworldly presence but it’s so flawed that to call it a good film would be a lie even though I loved it. I feel kind of the same way about The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and also Once Upon A Time In The West (although both indeed ARE very good films). What I’m doing a horrible job of trying to explain is this: I’d find it very hard to sit down and watch any of these three films from start to finish again but I think the overall look, feel, and score (the latter in the case of the Leone films) make these the exact sort of movies I wish were still being made. Well, okay – some are as The Revenant is this same sort of thing (and I think it would’ve made a more worthy Best Picture Winner than Spotlight as it’s the one that’ll be more appreciated and seen as a masterpiece in 20 years in the same way Leone’s movies are seen now). The artistic beauty of Leone’s films makes me happy and I find that very moving in a way that I rarely get with films nowadays. Sorry… that sounds cheesy as hell! Hey – look at Clint Eastwood’s smokin’ hot son Scott:

Where was I? This review is almost as long as the movie itself! (2 hours 41 minutes, FYI). Basically, I’m a sucker for a film with awesome visuals & a beautiful score and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of the all-time greatest when it comes to these two things. I may never sit through it for its entirety again but I’ve re-watched the ending, starting with the scene involving Morricone’s gorgeous The Ecstasy Of Gold, several times in the past month. It’s not very often that I have the desire to keep re-playing a part of a movie like that so I consider that to be some damn fine filmmaking.

My Rating: 8/10

Awesome theme. So damn awesome. But this one actually gives me chills:

All About Eve (1950) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Diane of Tvor Travels. Thanks for the review, Diane! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thinks of All About Eve, IMDB rank 104 out of 250…

There are another 14 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

All About Eve (1950)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

All About Eve is one of my all time favourite movies. It has a feel of being one of those films that was adapted from a stage play, probably because it’s all about the theatre, the actors and the rivalries but it was in fact, based on a short story “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr. The script was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

The basic premise of the movie is about an aging Broadway star, Margo Channing. She’s just turned 40, she’s a brilliant and talented actress, but the best roles are for the younger engenue and it’s getting more and more difficult for her to pass as one. Age and experience has a way of contributing a jaded attitude that does not work well with a role for a younger character, after all. Her lover is 8 years younger than her, and she’s feeling insecure about that, as well. Into the mix comes Eve Harrington, seemingly a star struck young woman who looks up to Margo and wants to be like her. In every way. She wants to be a famous actress and is determined to claw her way to the top using any scheming means necessary including seduction, subversive manipulation, and metaphorical back stabbing. Completing the main cast are Margo’s younger lover, Bill who is a director, her best friend, Karen, her friend’s husband, Lloyd, who writes the plays Margo has starred in.

The movie starts with an awards ceremony where Eve Harrington is receiving the very prestigious Sarah Siddon’s award for Distinguished Achievement. We then backtrack. Eve Harrington shows up at the stage door one dark and rainy night. Karen invites her to meet her idol, Margo Channing, and Eve narrates her life story, a classic and a bit cheesy story of a poor farm girl who wanted to be an actress but has lived a boring and dull life until she discovered amateur dramatics and later, Margo Channing. She even tells them she married a war hero who was killed in action. It’s all very tragic. Just as Eve intended. Here we have a fabulous line from Birdie, Margo’s assistant and dresser. “What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her rear end!”

The action is narrated from various points of view through the course of the film. We start with sardonic theatre critic, Addison deWitt then move over to Karen when Eve is introduced. Margo takes over at the start of Eve being taken on as an assistant. It’s interesting, and it adds that little extra aspect to the characters and their reactions to Eve. Addison has the full measure of the diabolical Eve and manages to rein her in from her most destructive tendencies but Addison also likes to hitch his wagon to a winner and he can see the writing on the wall. Karen is naive and like most of the characters, believes Eve’s stories and explanations at first. Margo sees nothing but what Eve wants her to see, blinded by the young woman’s adoration of her at first until her jealousy and insecurity take hold.

We follow Eve as she insinuates herself into Margo’s life as she worms her way up the ladder to the boards of the stage, getting a chance as the understudy that makes her triumphant debut and a star is born. Lloyd becomes enchanted by Eve’s young talent. Bill becomes disenchanted by Margo’s jealousy. Eve plays them all like chess pieces. But Eve’s also going to have to watch her own back. Karma might be waiting in the wings.

The cast is superb, with Bette Davis taking the role of Margo and Anne Baxter as Eve. Gary Merrill plays Bill, Margo’s husband and was married to Bette Davis by the time the film was released in 1950. Addison deWitt is played by the wonderful George Sanders with Celeste Holm and Hugh Marlowe as Karen and Lloyd. The film is also noted for an early appearance by Marilyn Monroe in the famous scene that ends with the legendary Davis line “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night”. In fact, this movie is full of superb dialogue.

The movie pokes holes in Broadway, the actors and the lifestyle and it shows a not-so-nice side of the business, where men can age and continue to get great parts, but women can’t. Things are getting a little better in that respect, but it’s not come along in leaps and bounds, either. The film was nominated for and won a lot of awards including the Oscar for Best Picture in a year where it competed with Sunset Boulevard, another really strong movie. Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were both nominated for Best Actress and neither won, probably splitting the vote.

I’m sure the character of Margo, very similar in age to Davis, exhibiting the fear, vulnerability and insecurities of an actress at that age and in that time period probably felt very familiar. She certainly made the character believable and played it very realistically. That’s what was so great about Bette Davis, she never backed down from a character, even if the character was unflattering or unlikeable. She would want the character to transcend the actress and that’s why she was one of the best of what she did. For me, this is Bette Davis at the very top of her game.

The Artist (2011) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Jia Wei of Film & Nuance. Thanks for the review, Jia Wei! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on The Artist, IMDB rank 193 out of 250 on 01/01/13…

There are another 14 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

When I saw that CinemaParrotDisco‘s IMDB Top 250 challenge had The Artist up for grabs for reviewing , I signed up immediately. I’ve always wanted to watch the film and it was in my Blindspot list as well, so I figured, kill two birds with one stone eh? 🙂

The Artist is bravura in film-making. It is completely unapologetic. Instead of your mainstream film that champions a bonanza of eye-popping camera tricks and visual feasts, or prides itself as having dialogue that’s engaging and extensive, The Artist is a complete rejection of the big-screen movie formula. It dispels the notion that ‘effects’, or some other word suggesting the advent of modern film-making, is needed to produce a great film. In fact, it is in the very drastically different approach the film has taken that has led it to create new experiences for audiences; It has broken into the virgin land of pure emotional resonance. Indeed, it’s not the first silent and black and white film. But considering our current day and age, it has boldly relived a nostalgic era of the past and breathed new life into a picture that transcends accesorries: No colour, no sound and nothing to adulterate the experience. To use a cliche phrase on a wholly un-cliched film, The Artist is the embodiment of ‘less is more’. Director Michel Hazanavicius and actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo seemed stretched to their maximum potential to create raw tension from acting alone. And how fitting was it that the film was about the very struggle itself, the fight to hold on to the last vestiges of success, and the tragic tryings of a man who desperately held on to that which he gave him voice – Silence.

In all that forms The Artist, nothing can be said to be pretentious. We’ve seen too many pretentious films these past two years, the most notable of all is a fellow Oscar winner same-genre film Birdman. It features a ‘washed-up broadway actor’ trying hard to regain relevancy and salvage his ego. One cannot help but compare the two, and if you’ve put off seeing The Artist for some reason like I did until recently, I say wait no more! But enough about the one-take ‘much ado about nothing’ film and let’s talk about something truly revolutionary. Paying homage to both the black & white as well as the silent era of films in the past, The Artist could only have pulled its stunt off with the conviction and power in both Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo’s acting. The former plays a sort of celebrity figure in a dying age. Dujardin mixes just enough pomp and suave to foreshadow his later downfall. Bejo plays the vivacious and preppy up-and-coming rising star hoping to rise through the ranks. Their chemistry is unmistakable, and becomes a point of contention between destructive co-existence and fruitful romance.

John Goodman plays the ultra realistic director/production boss who shifts with the tides of cinema, at one point telling George Valentin(Jean Dujardin) quite directly, “The audience want’s fresh meat.” But let’s get real here, the other characters didn’t really leave us with anything. Jean and Berenice stole the show. Oh wait, I almost forgot George’s pet puppie. But we’ll get back to that later. Michel Hazanavicius’ directing is splendid. What I love so much about the film was its untainted portrayal of the ‘silent era’. Even in the most joyful moments, the quiet functioned to unsettle a little,then a little more until the internal struggle of the mind truly reared its ugly head. Indeed,silence does play around with how we feel. In the film’s happiest moments, the psychological effects of George’s nadir festers in subtlely. At the end, quite surprisingly, one of the film’s sweetest moments come when the end seemed doomed to the inevitable.

Ultimately, The Artist takes you through the bygone age, unearthing a richly depicted world of film-making in the silent era way back. You’ll find the silence a little puzzling at first, but when Jean begins to hear the sounds of his habitus but not the sound of his own voice, you will start to fully appreciate what the film is actually trying to say. It’s not simply a romance film of disconnected lovers . It’s not about a love-hate relationship with ego toying with the frailties of man. It is in fact about the value of a man in terms of the art he creates, and his horror and sadness at the cruel workings of time that slowly sweeps everything it once glorifies into memory. Dujardin’s performance is powerful in that he is able to show the artist that has come undone, and Hazanavicius masterfully creates humour and catharsis to salvage the nilhilism and devastation he has built up. Oh I almost forgot…the dog! Well actually other than being Jean’s best pal, this little guy actually represents both George and Peppy(Berenice Bejo); The dog’s loyalty mirrors George’s unflailing love for his art while also being a symbol of Peppy’s undying support for Jean. There’s so much to explore and interpret on your own, so go watch it if you haven’t because I’m sure it’ll touch you.

Partly a tribute to film of ages past and partly a romantic-comical film, The Artist is an ode to the psychology of the artist, craftsman and performer. It is an insightful look into the fine barometers by which these artists weigh their own worth and success, and the dysfunction when the world no longer shares the same sentiment. It is admirable but also tragic and Hazanivius shows how there can perhaps be a saving grace that transcends all the art and craft in the world. In a nerve-wrecking finish, The Artist offers us what we hope for. And although we can’t truly say that we’re certain of what lies ahead, we know for sure that love that is pure is love that can save us all.

Rating: 9/10

Images credited to La Petite Reine, ARP Sélection, Studio 37, La Class Americane,France 3 CinemaU Film, Jouror Productions, JD Prod, Warner Bros and The Weinstein Company

Catch Me If You Can (2002) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks for the review, Satu! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of Catch Me If You Can, IMDB rank 240 out of 250…

There are another 16 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

I originally wrote this review/summary for my scriptwriting course, so there’s more plot details that I usually include but change is good, right? I also added some points. Hope you enjoy reading it. Spoilers ahead.

Sometimes it’s easier living the lie​​​​

Catch Me If You Can is a crime dramedy based on a biography of Frank Abagnale Jr., American con-man who succeeded in forging millions of dollars of fake checks while pretending to be a Pan-Am pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, all that before his 19th birthday. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg. It was released 2002 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a main character Frank Abagnale Jr., Tom Hanks as a federal officer Hanratty chasing him and Christopher Walken is Frank Sr.

I saw Catch Me If You Can for the first time when it was released in Finland in 2003. I liked it back then and I liked it this time even more, probably because I paid more attention to the details of the film. Spielberg knows how to do details, his films are always looking and sounding great. The film is not overly emotional, so, even though I’m quite emotional person, I didn’t cry during the film. Mostly I guess I was exhilarated and afterwards relieved and in the end, disappointed, at least a bit. The main character is likeable and a con-man, so it’s easy to get excited for him and feel relieved after he manages his mischiefs. Disappointed-part is debatable.

(SPOILERS IN THIS PART) “Sometimes it’s easier living the lie”, says Hanratty at the end of the film. The phrase summarizes the film. Catch Me If You Can is a story of responsibility, growing up and bringing up. It’s a story of owning up. The film might be an adventure to viewer but it also makes you think what is justified in order to get around in one’s life. But in the end, I figure that Catch Me If You Can is a bit too much of a “lesson” about what kind of life you should live. And that is what let me down; the film ended up being one those familiar stories; bad childhood, rebelling child, moral aberrations and again, happily ever after. I kind of wished a bit more demanding ending, I guess.

Even though Spielberg has yet again a child as his lead, Catch Me If You Can is very stylish crime thriller. It has this adult feel and I believe children or even teens would be bored while watching it. The film must be PG because there’s basically no violence and very little of sex and nudity but the story and especially how it’s told tells that the target audience is civilized, smart adults who has taste and style. Catch Me If You Can has jamesbondish vibe to it without the sexual content. One of the Abagnale’s alter-ego is even named Mr. Fleming.

All of the actors are great; obviously. What else would you wait from DiCaprio, Hanks and Walken? Amy Adams also makes unforgettable role in the film as Abagnale’s love interest. That must have been one of the bigger roles in the beginning of her career. Catch Me If You Can got two Oscar nominations for Walken as Frank’s dad, deservedly so, he’s heartbreaking in a small kind of a way, and un-surprisingly to John Williams who smartly scored the film, I liked the music a lot. DiCaprio was also nominated for the Golden Globe. All in all, the film is good, solid 8/10 but it misses the last punch.

Network (1976) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

I’m starting up the IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews again (link to list of available films below) & today’s review comes from Keith of Keith & The Movies. Thanks for the review, Keith! 🙂 Now let’s see what he thought of Network, IMDB rank 171 out of 250…

There are another 23 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

***WARNING: SPOILERS***

“Network” is a film that I have probably seen if you piece together all of the portions I’ve watched over time. But it qualified as a Blind Spot because I had never sat down and watched it through. I never could put a finger on what kept me from investing the time to watch a film that many categorize as truly great. Upon watching it in its entirety, I was reminded what first drew me to the movie as well as what pushed me away.

For me “Network” is a mixed bag that is hard a narrow down or label. To call it messy would be an understatement, but there is a reason and motivation behind its messiness. “Network” seeks to push every button it can reach. It strives to be a full-blown outrageous satire, an insightful look behind the scenes, and a sermon on nearly every social or political concern of 1976. Director Sidney Lumet and writer Paddy Chayefsky never allow their film to be pigeonholed but at the same time its constant shifts in tone and voice, specifically in the second half, do more to distract than enlighten.

The film begins by painting itself as a behind-the-scenes expose on a struggling television network. UBS makes the decision to fire their longtime evening news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) after a steady ratings decline. During one of his final broadcasts Beale threatens to kill himself on live television (an idea inspired by Christine Chubbuck’s on-air suicide in 1974). This infuriates the network heads who have him removed immediately.

Beale’s best friend and news division boss Max Schumacher (William Holden) allows him to appear one more time in order to bow out with dignity. Beale uses the opportunity to go on a mad rant which again angers his bosses but spikes the network ratings. Programming director and ruthless ratings hawk Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) convinces her boss Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall) to exploit Beale’s obvious mental breakdown much to Max’s disapproval.

But “Network” then shoots off into a number of unusual directions including an ill-fated romance between Diana and Max. Diana is incapable of loving anything other than television ratings while Max flippantly and emotionlessly leaves his wife of 25 years Louise (earnestly played by Beatrice Straight who won an Oscar for her whopping 5 minutes of screen time). It is a weird side road that only plays out in spurts. There is a compelling current in each of their scenes yet we are never allowed the time to fully understand the relationship.

The film also branches off into a Patty Hearst-like side story complete with an urban leftist militant group directly patterned after the Symbionese Liberation Army. These scenes start off strong but intentionally grow more absurd. These things all clash together before culminating in an ending which is completely off the rails. Again, none of this is by accident. Lumet and Chayefsky have so much to say, so much to explore, and so many indictments. Some of it is chilling and prophetic while some gets lost in the melange of loud rants and pointed lectures. But somehow it is always compelling.

“Network” was a huge success in 1976 and was widely applauded by critics. It won a total of four Oscars (for Dunaway, Finch, Straight, and Chayefsky) and was nominated for six more. It is a film that does so many interesting things and it subverts nearly any expectation the audience may have going in. Yet despite its irreverent ambitions it is messy to a fault. The clashing between seriousness and satire is jolting and not always in an entertaining way. I also don’t think the film lives up to its own lofty feelings of self-importance. It ends up being an engaging but frustrating road full of many ups and some disappointing downs.

VERDICT – 3 STARS

My 2016 Blog Resolutions: Blind Spot Choices, IMDB Reviews & Taking It Easy 

Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂 I’ve already posted all my 2015 Top Ten Lists so here they are if you’re interested:

My Top Ten Movies Of 2015
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2015
My Top Ten Books Read In 2015 (and mini-reviews)

(I have to say that this was by far the best year for movies since I started this blog. I hope 2016 is as good of a year for film!)

I was actually very eager to get 2015 over & done with and to move onto 2016. It’s ridiculous as January 1st is just another day like any other but, for whatever reason, we all think we’re going to actually change for the better each year. 😉 I like to think this actually works for some people and, this year, I have some pretty big resolutions that have nothing to do with the blog. So my biggest blog resolution is to, well, not spend so much time on it. To take it easy & not let a hobby that I really enjoy stress me out in any way. I’ll do what I can and skip what I can’t.

But I of course still want to keep up on my biggest hobby besides blogging, which is actually watching the movies that I blog about. So I’m adding just one new blogging project this year that I think should be fairly easily achievable (and, if I don’t manage to finish it by December 31st 2016, that’s life).

I’ve seen the Blind Spot Series being done on loads of blogs & keep saying every year that I should join in. Screw it – I’ve decided to do it. Basically, it appears that you choose 12 movies that you’ve always been meaning & wanting to watch but, for whatever reason, just never got around to them. Is that correct?

I have such a huge list of movies like that and, of course, a lot will eventually be done by me as part of my IMDB Top 250 Challenge anyway (more about that later). A lot of people seem to pick very “worthy” stuff but my list isn’t going to contain any Citizen Kane-type films since that’s all in the IMDB Top 250 so I’ll torture myself with those at some point. No – my 12 are movies that I actively want to watch, not ones I know I’ll have to force myself to watch. That’s been the case with most of the Top 250 films I’ve watched – I do love them once I’ve seen them but getting around to watching them is a damn chore.

So here are My 12 Blind Spot Choices For 2016, most of which are pretty highly regarded but not necessarily “worthy classics”:

True Romance

THX 1138

El Topo

Natural Born Killers

Battle Royale

Akira

Summer Wars

An Education

The City Of Lost Children

Magic

Phenomena

Eyes Without A Face

My main reasoning for choosing most of these? I went through the big “Watchlist” I have and tried to choose things that I already own (I’m broke!). The only two that I don’t have are the last two so, if I find that I really can’t afford to buy them, these are some alternates (and a good start to Blind Spot 2017, I guess!):

Play Misty For Me
Zodiac
The Raid
Running On Empty
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
House (Hausu) (1977)
Tetsuo
Solaris (1972)

Now, moving onto my IMDB thing…

It’s been three years now since I started my IMDB Top 250 Project on 01/01/13. As there have been many changes to the list since then, I’ve decided to finally work off of an updated 01/01/16 version (see “additions” at the bottom of THIS PAGE – there are 34 new movies that have been added to the Top 250).

As always, this is mainly a project for me to complete (I’m reviewing the movies I’ve never seen plus some favorites). If you really want to do a guest review, the available films that I don’t plan to do myself are below. If you sign up, you have one month to get your review to me before it goes back on the Available list below. I won’t be keeping close track of who signs up for what – I’ll just add the movies to the “Selected” section.

I hope no one takes this the wrong way but I need to start fresh. A lot of these films were signed up for a long time ago but I can no longer keep track of who said which ones they’d do, especially as several have changed hands more than once. If you are one of the people who signed up for one of these, let me know if you DO still want to join in. Thanks everybody! 🙂

AVAILABLE TO BE REVIEWED:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
Gone with the Wind 1939
NEW ADDITIONS AS OF 2016:
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

Depending on the response, I may give up some of my favorites I’d kept for myself to do (Jaws, Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, etc etc).

I hope you all have a wonderful 2016! It’s great to still see everyone who has stuck around in the three years I’ve been doing this blogging thing but I hope that you’re all happy outside of this online thing as well. If you need to take a break from this, take a break. It’s something you can always come back to now & then.

Besides the IMDB thing, I have three other ongoing projects that I’m not going to rush in any way as I know I can do them if and when I feel like it. These personal projects are to watch all of John Carpenter’s films, all the Studio Ghibli films, and most of Akira Kurosawa’s films. I’ve done well on Studio Ghibli so far (you can see all my existing reviews HERE) and I’m happy to say that, so far, I’ve watched two films in 2016: Ghibli’s Whisper Of The Heart and Kurosawa’s Ikiru (also a new entry into the Top 250). So I’m not giving up on movie blogging just yet! But, damn – now I guess I have to do the hard part of actually reviewing those two… Ha!

For now, though, I’m taking a break from posting anything for the next week. Or two. 🙂

Into The Wild (2007) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Melissa of Snap Crackle Watch!. Thanks for the review, Melissa! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of Into The Wild, IMDB rank 161 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Into the Wild (2007)

Directed by Sean Penn

Written by Sean Penn

Into the Wild (2007), written and directed by Sean Penn, adapted from the book by the same name by Jon Krakauer is a perspective into the life of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). The young man who went into the wilderness of Alaska in search of himself and to shed his city life and roots.

Many people who live privileged lives, ones that are untouched by grief, poverty, never know the reality of struggling day by day. I believe that what McCandless sought was that feeling and that experience of the unknown. When a young person grows up stressed and under pressure by daily life, they don’t know how they will make it another day. All they know is that they have to and one day there may be a better day for them. But growing up he never really had to face any of those moments.

It was only till he got older that he would see that his family was nothing near perfect and that the challenges he put on himself would prove to be a dangerous route. This is one of those stories that touches the viewer to the bone, it’s emotional, exciting and makes you wonder what kind of person what put themselves through this journey.

Abandoning a trust fund, his car, and any material possessions other than those he could carry on his back, McCandless sets out on a passage to reach the Stampede Trail in Alaska. He doesn’t contact his parents, Walt (William Hurt) and Billie MCandless (Marcia Gay Harden), nor does he even contact his sister Carine (Jena Malone) who he was close with growing up. We only see his family in flashbacks, as the movie hints at his past, we see that his parents did not live that idyllic life that maybe he thought existed, but instead had a lot of deep secrets that the family kept hidden.

Throughout his journey, McCandless meets various people on the road. They teach him lessons about life and about forging relationships. Through them he begins to see that there are so many different varied people out there in the world. With traveling hippies Jan (Catherine Keener) and Rainey (Brian H. Dierker) he learns about marriage and what it takes to keep that spirit alive. He works with Wayne (Vince Vaughn) for a while, who he observes as a friendly farmer who gives him a chance to work and earn some money.

Later on he meets Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook) the two enter into an endearing relationship, he teaches him how to do leatherwork and ends up giving him his old camping supplies. It was as if the older man could see himself maybe in McCandless or maybe he enjoyed hearing his idealistic visions about his upcoming adventure. Regardless, he touched everyone he met as much as he appreciated them.

Once McCandless enters into the wilderness, he finds an old school bus that he sets up camp in, it becomes his home in the end. We see his adventures take off, running through the woods and streams, and even killing a moose. It’s as if he envisioned himself as a romanticized version of Jack London himself, getting into adventures and journaling them as an idealistic writer. Everything changes for him in Alaska and his life is turned upside down. The choices he made carry them with him till the end and we see them play out in front of us.

Penn captures the essence of adventure and defeat in this film. It is obvious that he put his heart and soul into the film, as it took two years to make. The soundtrack by Eddie Veder goes perfectly with the sentiments of the film and makes you feel that foreboding loneliness with each scene.

Hirsch was amazing and deserved every accolade for his portrayal of McCandless. This definitely solidified him as a great actor; he carried the entire movie on his back.

I absolutely loved this movie, I enjoy movies that make me think about life and allow me to be introspective. McCandless isn’t shown as a martyr, which I think is important, instead he was simply a young man who wanted to have his own adventures and make something of his life on his own terms, nothing more than that. Overall great film, it is one I could re-watch and probably still garner some nugget of wisdom from each time.

}}Melissa

Mystic River (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Khalid of The Blazing Reel. Thanks for the review, Khalid! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Mystic River, IMDB rank 239 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Very few people in Hollywood have had a career quite like that of Clint Eastwood. In a career that’s spanned over forty years, ol’ Clint has done it all; he’s starred in some of the greatest movies to come out during this time-period, played some of the most memorable on-screen characters, heck, the guy is basically the poster boy for badassery. He’s also one of the few actors who’ve made even better directors. But of all the Unforgivens and Million Dollar Babies, there’s one film that’s for me, stands out as the crowning achievement on his truly stellar career. That film is of course Mystic River.

Mystic River The Blazing Reel Top 25 Movies of All Time Sean Penn Clint Eastwood Kevin Bacon Tim Robbins

When the daughter of ex-con Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) is murdered, two of his childhood friends from the neighborhood are involved. Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), a blue-collar worker, was the last person to see her alive, while Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), a homicide detective, is heading up the case. As Sean proceeds with his investigation, Jimmy conducts one of his own through neighborhood contacts, soon Jimmy and Sean both start to suspect their old pal, Dave, who lives a quiet life with his wife Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) but harbors some disturbing secrets.

Dark, ominous and brooding to a fault, Mystic River is quite simply one of the greatest dramas to ever hit the screen. It’s a film that got unfairly swept under the rug when out came out twelve years ago mainly because of the buzz surrounding its two Oscar competitors, Return of the King and Lost in Translation. But while they were both great films, it’s Mystic River that stands out as the most emotionally resonant of the three.

Benefitting from some truly magnificent work by Clint Eastwood, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and an ensemble cast, firing on all cylinders, Mystic River had my attention from the very first scene and proceeded to engage me even more. Brian Helgeland ‘s brilliant script, adapted from the book by Dennis Lehane never loses focus of a story that may seem pretty conventional on paper, rather keeps surprising us with twists and turns that enhance the drama only more.

Mystic River Tim Robbins

And you can’t ask for a better display of acting than the one you get from this film and Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, both of whom seem to lose themselves in their roles, carry the movie with their mesmerising, Oscar winning performances. Many people were shocked when Penn beat out Bill Murray at the Oscars that year but while it’s debatable which performance of the two was better, no one can say that his performance wasn’t worthy of merit because as Jimmy Markum, Penn gives a complex, riveting and groundbreaking performance and despite that Tim Robbins -who’s equally brilliant, if not more- is able to steal so many scenes from him in his haunting turn as Dave Boyle.

Not to forget, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne and Marcia Gay Harden who provide great support as well. But ultimately though, it’s the film’s powerful emotional core that makes it such an unforgettable experience and the reason why I keep revisiting after all these years. The film has a very unique moral conscience and an exceedingly dense plot that sets it apart from most dramas and its stark depiction of tragedy and loss is perhaps one of the most compelling ones ever put on film.

M (1931) IMDB Top 250 Review

I’ve finally done my own IMDB Top 250 review! 🙂 After this week, only one more guest review will be posted then they’ll no longer be posted regularly every Tuesday. I’ll do my own sometimes but will continue to post guest reviews if & when I receive them. If you’ve signed up for any, feel free to send them to me & I’ll post them right away. Now let’s have a look at Fritz Lang’s M… 

M (1931) (German: M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder — “M – A city looks for a murderer”)

IMDB Rank: 52 out of 250 on 01/01/13

Directed by Fritz Lang

Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Gustaf Gründgens

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

My Opinion:

I know I started this IMDB Top 250 project as a way to force myself to finally watch a lot of classic films that I had yet to see but I’ve been very lazy about reviewing any the past couple of years, especially as I’ve had so many guest reviews to post. I’m glad I started it as I’ve discovered some films that I now adore: things like Charlie Chaplin’s movies and a surprising amount of war movies such as The Bridge On The River Kwai, which I never expected to like so much. But it’s been difficult with a few as, while I can understand why they’re so highly regarded, they just didn’t work for me. One of these was On The Waterfront so I’ve been putting off reviewing that for a year now. I’ll still eventually say something about every Top 250 film I watch but some may be multiple quickie reviews like I’ve been doing lately. I’ll get back to doing more of these myself again in the New Year. I’m just saying that, you know, don’t expect all of them to be “quality” reviews as I have surprisingly little to say about some of these classics. Not that anyone has come to expect any quality reviews from me anyway. 😉

The point of all my rambling is this:  M is excellent and definitely deserves its place in the Top 250 but it’ll never exactly be a favorite film of mine as I’ve never been a big fan of the crime genre. I’ll talk about it a little bit, though, as some of you would probably like it a lot and I do love to bring attention to films that deserve it. And nothing makes me happier than when someone decides to watch a movie after I’ve done a post about it!

I figured I could do this as part of my October Horror thing since it’s a movie about a child killer. This is the sort of topic I’d normally avoid watching but I had no choice if I’m going to ever finish this project. Besides – it’s a movie from 1931 so I knew it would probably handle things in a respectful way & of course not be graphic in any way. If I’m going to watch a movie like this, I’d rather watch one from 1931 instead of some nasty modern day True Detective-style crime story. Sorry – I don’t normally like crime films, particularly ones about murderers, and I never have for some reason. Give me sci-fi & fantasy! (Metropolis is the Fritz Lang movie I really should have watched by now instead. I’m so ashamed…)

That M poster is awesome, though. Look at it! God they had so much more style in the old days. Although it could be a new design – what the hell do I know? And the scene involving the M on the hand was pretty damn great (I did wonder if there would actually be an M on someone’s hand). This movie is a pain in the ass to Google, though, being just one letter. Guess it’ll go at the start of the letter M in my movie review index! Which reminds me – I’d reviewed a movie for every single letter on this blog other than Q and it was really annoying me so I was planning to do Quadrophenia at some point. Then I watched & reviewed the thoroughly boring The Quiet Ones a couple of weeks ago & it didn’t even register that I’d finally done a Q movie until I put it in the index. Dammit!!! What a wasted opportunity – that movie sucked. Off topic again? Sorry!

Review actually starts NOW!

Crime films may not be my favorite genre but M is a truly excellent example of one and I’d strongly recommend it to fans of this sort of thing (someone like Zoe – I know you like your crime & detective books, Zoe!). It’s, I’m assuming, one of the very first of its type and certainly one of the very best (in my limited experience). From a filmmaking standpoint, of which I know absolutely nothing, there are some amazing shots in this that will forever remain in my mind. Ones such as this:


(Hmm – was the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show opening an homage to this??)

And this, which I couldn’t find a great image of, but it’s from a fabulous scene in front of a mirror shop. Very cool use of the reflections:

Plus a couple others that I won’t share as they’re big plot spoilers…

I’ll admit that the movie did drag a couple of times (for me) when the investigation was underway & detectives were doing all they could to try to figure out who the killer was. It was fascinating, though, as they were using handwriting & fingerprint analysis – it was such a different world back then and it must have been so hard to track down a serial killer. I have to say, though, that this movie feels very ahead of its time in many ways so don’t avoid it just because it’s from 1931. It’s weird to think that this is from a time when Charlie Chaplin was still making silent films (City Lights also came out in 1931) as M is a “talkie”. It feels more like the 1940’s crime films such as Hitchcock’s Shadow Of A Doubt or The Maltese Falcon (also starring Peter Lorre).

Speaking of Lorre, he’s fantastic as the murderer in this (I’ve not given anything away there – this is one of those movies where the audience knows the killer). I don’t watch as many older films as I should so, while I know Lorre’s name, I can’t say I remember him in either The Maltese Falcon or Casablanca as I barely remember those films now. I know, I know – I saw them at a very young age! I’ve been meaning to re-watch Casablanca for years & I especially want to now after seeing Lorre in this. This may sound weird but he has such a great face for this role. He’s totally believable (if that’s a good thing? I read that he was often typecast as a villain after this movie). This movie also sort of explores the psychological aspect and whether a criminal has control over their actions or not, which again made the movie feel ahead of its time. The only one slight downer is that there’s a little bit of blame placed on the murdered childrens’ mothers for “not watching them well enough”. Well, it was 1931… It was a different time!

Summary:

M is one of those movies I appreciated even more after thinking about it for a while and as I wrote this review (I watched it about a month ago). Certain scenes are so iconic and I’ll never again hear Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King without thinking of this movie, in which the song is used in such a memorably haunting way. Peter Lorre is fantastic and, while the middle dragged a little as the investigation was underway, the ending more than made up for it. I absolutely loved the direction the film took in the manhunt for the murderer. I highly recommend M to fans of the crime thriller genre and fully admit that it deserves to be one point higher than my rating but, as always, my ratings are based more on my own personal enjoyment of a movie. Now I really should watch Metropolis as it looks more like my type of thing – it’s ridiculous that I haven’t!

My Rating: 7.5/10

All Quiet On The Western Front (1930) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from S.G. Liput of Rhyme And Reason. Thanks for the review, S.G.! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about All Quiet On The Western Front, IMDB rank 231 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

A simple pair of boots am I,
Inanimate no more.
I’ve watched my many owners die
Engaging in this war.

I marched with them to battle,
Felt them proudly standing tall.
I sensed their spirits rattle,
And I felt their bodies fall.

I started out so polished
On the feet of fearless men,
But as nerves were demolished,
I was passed along again.

I’m now as bruised and battered
As the broken troops I wear.
They ask if all this mattered,
But the answer I can’t bear.
_______________

Rating: Not Rated (should be PG)

I’m very particular about old movies. Some are undeniably classics, like Gone with the Wind or It’s a Wonderful Life, but others are so highly acclaimed that, when I finally see them, I just don’t understand their appeal. “Classics” like The Philadelphia Story and The Third Man puzzle me because something prevents them from reaching the potential that supporters like the AFI claim they reach, whether it be the music or the stilted dialogue or the overacting that is given a pass simply because it’s a classic. It’s not often that I see an old black-and-white film that I can admire along with all the die-hard critics and pronounce a timeless work of art. All Quiet on the Western Front is such a film, and it won the 1930 equivalent of Best Picture and Best Director (the aptly named Lewis Milestone).

War has always been one of mankind’s most unfortunate trends, but World War I has always struck me as one of the worst, a conflict with no good or evil side, no goal, no motive except mounting European tension and entangling alliances. In addition, both sides were introducing new forms of warfare, and inventions like mustard gas and modern trench warfare made the battlefields a uniquely deplorable hell. All Quiet ably captures the horror and dread of a war no one really wanted to fight.

The film begins with a patriotic professor urging his students to join the war effort, filling their heads with dreams of heroism and duty, and despite initial hesitation, they take his advice and run with it. It doesn’t take long for their unrealistic bubbles to be popped, not by the enemy, but by the rigors of military life. A former friend promoted over them revels in his superiority and shows them all that war is no time for buddies. Then comes the real introduction to war, the hunger of poorly supplied countrymen, the unnerving wait as explosions around them tax their nerves, the terror and fury and guilt of killing and being killed, things that demagogue recruiter never told them about.

While most of the recruits lack enough character to be distinguishable, Paul Bäumer (Lew Ayres) is the main character we follow. His are the goodbyes and the rude awakenings. His are the friendships made with his comrades, such as the food rustler “Kat” Katczinsky (Louis Wolheim). His are the moral struggles and the starkest disillusionment. Yet Paul serves not just as one character, but as the embodiment of an entire generation, “a generation of men, who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war,” as the opening title card knowingly states. By himself, Ayres sometimes drifts into that dated acting standard of old movies, but with others, he and all the actors perform their roles with earnest dedication and credibility.

Despite its age, this pre-Code film effectively recreates the intensity of battle, in both its morbid anticipation and its on-field brutality. While most of it is bloodless, there was at least one brief but rather shocking scene, in which an exploding bomb leaves only a man’s severed hands clinging to barbed wire. The traditional shooting and charging of war are contrasted with more artistic sequences, such as following a pair of unlucky boots from one ill-fated owner to the next. And though its black-and-white cinematography dates it somewhat, there are certain scenes, especially toward the end, that are just as effective as if they had been filmed with modern-day techniques.

All Quiet on the Western Front is among the best war films I’ve seen, though some scenes away from the front drag a bit, such as Paul’s tryst with a French woman. Not many English films focus on the losing side of the conflict; Joyeux Noel did in part, but All Quiet centers on the Germans exclusively, from the cynical veterans to the out-of-touch generals. In doing so, it presents a sweeping picture of World War I in all its futility and weariness, an indictment of both that struggle and all political excuses for bloodshed.

Best line: (Paul) “Up at the front you’re alive or you’re dead, and that’s all. You can’t fool anybody about that very long. And up there we know we’re lost and done for, whether we’re dead or alive. Three years we’ve had of it, four years! And every day a year, and every night a century! And our bodies are earth, and our thoughts are clay, and we sleep and eat with death! And we’re done for because you can’t live that way and keep anything inside you!”

Rating: List-Worthy

© 2015 S. G. Liput

Shutter Island (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Thanks so much for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thinks of Shutter Island, IMDB rank 235 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

shutter island poster

Sanity’s not a choice, Marshall. You can’t just choose to get over it.” Dr John Crawley

SYNOPSIS: A U.S Marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. – via IMDB

Yes! You better believe it! I am back again, I just cannot resist this IMDB Top 250 challenge at all, and I just want to thank the lovely Miss Mutant for allowing me to submit so many reviews to her site for it. Well, we all know what goes here, so now we will move on to the movie reviewing bit itself – I am talking Shutter Island today.

Now, I know there are a few people that are not overly enamoured with this endeavour by the dream team that is Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (super cough directed at you, Eric). But you know what? I guess we will leave this at each to their own.

shutter island the island

I have read Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, and I loved that, too. Lehane is a gifted writer and I have enjoyed all his work so far. Granted, I read the book after the movie, but I would like to mention that it is one hell of a loyal and great adaption of the book. Shutter Island was a trip to take; it was just wonderful for me. It was suspenseful, very well acted and I loved the cast. The CGI may not have been perfect, but that was really peripheral for me in all honesty. I have always said that I can deal with crappy effects provided that the story is gripping and captivating. Now, these effects were by no long shot dreadful, but they were quite a way from being on the level of something like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The score for this was loud and in your face, building suspense, though at times I even thought that it was a little excessive (yes, defender of the film that I am and all). Most people complain about how heavy and loud it is in the beginning, but I thought that it served its purpose perfectly there – it was going out of its way to make you feel uncomfortable and jangle your nerves.

I did not see that plot twist coming really; I was more interested in experiencing what was going down as it was without thinking too far forward. That is usually unlike me, I call these things rather quickly, and I know a lot of other people did call it early for this movie, but still. Maybe it is because the first time I watched this I was distracted with other things I was doing at the time, either way, it was a really pleasant surprise for me. Now, let’s talk about the performances. We all know that I am extremely taken with the super-talented Leonardo DiCaprio, and what he did in Shutter Island was no exception to his wonderful repertoire of roles. He came in as US Marshal Teddy Daniels and just… worked that role. He was angry, upset, driven by his work though definitely had some undertow of grief due to the loss of his family and a side project he was working. Mark Ruffalo complemented him fantastically as Chuck Aule, the two working back and forth, engaging and entertaining. DiCaprio came in and lent credence to Teddy, giving us some intense flashbacks of the things that he has seen in the past, the places he has gone.

shutter island sick world

The flashbacks are broken apart by the main story, which is also broken by the flashbacks. They come together so well, and give the movie a cool way of storytelling. The partnership between Teddy and Chuck was something different. Suspect, trusting, devolving into the mad crusade that Teddy is so preoccupied with… it is presented as a locked box mystery, but that in itself is such a side measure to the real issue at hand: Teddy and Shutter Island.

shutter island which would be worse

Martin Scorsese might not have delivered his finest work with Shutter Island, but he did deliver a solid adaptation of Lehane’s novel as well as a highly entertaining and undervalued film exploring the lengths that the mind will go to in order to protect itself. I find it to be a extremely enjoyable watch and something I will always recommend to people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iaYLCiq5RM

The Elephant Man (1980) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Tom of Digital Shortbread. Thanks for the review, Tom! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Elephant Man, IMDB rank 138 out of 250… (it was 116 when I started this project – it makes me mad when worthy films move down the list to make way for inferior films like Interstellar!)

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

imdb top 250 logo

IMDb Top 250 movie challenge: The Elephant Man (1980)

So there was this movie I needed to watch for this IMDb Top 250 movie challenge thing I was participating in. I’m using the past tense because this was something I had committed to about . . . a year and a half ago at this point. (Is that about right Mutey? Year and a half? or has it been longer?) The movie was David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and I finally managed to calm my ADHD down enough to where I could actually watch it. However, as I was cueing it up to watch my mind started being a bit of an ass, provoking me and stuff, telling me to flip to a different On-Demand channel, something that was playing a more recent movie.

“No!” I yelled back at it, out loud. Seated on a couch in the middle of a very quiet living room. All I had done over the last several months was learn to procrastinate better. Err, sorry, excuse me — blog about other movies that to me at the time seemed more urgent.* Finally I realized I could always procrastinate — yes, that ‘extremely-nonsensical-combination-of-letters-that-if-repeated-enough-over-a-short-span-of-time-makes-even-less-sense-but-somehow-if-you-only-say-it-once-you-know-exactly-what-it’s-referring-to’ word — later on anyway. I had to hit the play button now.

I was transported back to the late 1800s, and Victorian England, where traveling circuses were still all the rage and attracted (semi-) massive crowds. I think it’s only fair to assume those who did not turn out for these shows had some kind of moral compass that wasn’t shattered into shitty little useless bits. After a brief but trippy dream-like sequence, Lynch pans in on a striking man (Anthony Hopkins) moving through the crowds, trying to access a particular exhibit known only as ‘The Elephant Man.’ However a shift in the public perception of what these most bizarre and unholy of events actually represented — not curiosity, but cruelness — led to more than a few of the more obscure and unattractive exhibits being closed down by authorities. ‘The Elephant Man’ was one such exhibit.

Cut to a dank and depressingly dark alleyway somewhere in the London area, where once again Hopkins’ Dr. Frederick Treves is trying to get a glimpse of this elephant-like man. To do so, he must uncomfortably agree to some terms (mostly monetary . . . natch) set by the manager, a horrible man named Bytes (Freddie Jones). When he’s finally granted access Treves is so moved by what he sees that he asks if he may ‘study him’ back at the London Hospital, where Treves is a renowned practitioner of medicine. Or whatever fancy way 19th Century English people referred to medical-y people.

As Lynch’s often powerfully emotive work seeks to explore the relationship Dr. Treves formed with his patient, Joseph Merrick (a breathtakingly good John Hurt), during the time he stayed in this hospital, the narrative gets cozy in this facility, spending much of the remaining time concerned with the passage of time and how it can quite literally heal wounds. Unfortunately, the London Hospital had been deemed a facility fit only for those who could be cured of their ailment(s). Go figure, Victorian England. As if Joseph needed the added pressure of becoming an inconvenience to the bureaucracy. (Random bit of trivia: Joseph’s so commonly mistakenly referred to as John that he is actually ‘John’ in the movie as well, so for the purposes of this review I’ll stick with his movie name from here on out.)

The fabric of this narrative is weaved from a tough, humanistic cloth. The Elephant Man is an absorbing study of one of the most fundamental aspects of existence, the need and desire to fit in and belong to something. For the heavily disfigured John, it’s heartbreakingly sufficient for him to have his presence actually acknowledged by at least one person. Perhaps this explains why he opens up at all to the doctor who found him in the streets and why he said precious little to his circus manager/owner. John sees Dr. Treves as a paternal figure of sorts. At the very least, a reincarnation of his mother, of whom he carries around a picture in his pocket. Since early childhood, around the age of 10 when she passed away, John was always curious to know if she, too, would have rejected him like his father and his new wife had . . . or would she have accepted him for what and who he was?

The Elephant Man is powered by two tremendous performances from Hurt and Hopkins, the former being one of the strongest in all of cinematic history. (Certainly in my history of watching movies, which is like, so totally not a history at all . . . . . ) I feel pretty comfortable making that claim even when factoring in make-up effects that were ahead of their time, effects so convincing they inspired the Academy to introduce an award category the following year specifically for Make-Up Artistry.** Hurt, behind a mask that graphically depicts the brutality of random chance (a.k.a. the nature of genetics), is mesmerick (see what I did there? I spelled that word as if it were his last name as part of the . . . okay, yeah this is pointless information). But for cereals, you cannot turn away from this performance, not for a second. The man is utterly transfixing throughout, in ways that ingeniously distract from the grotesque physical appearance. Physically embodying the character was one step, but giving the man personality . . . that’s another challenge entirely. And yet, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for Hurt. He’s stoic yet nevertheless heartbroken by his past; grateful for Treves’ kindness yet still aware that not everyone can be like him. There’s an aura surrounding John that is wholly indebted to Hurt’s interpretation.

Obviously Hopkins is no slouch either. A complicated individual, Treves is first at odds with the hospital and its ‘curable patients’ policy. Over the months and years of John remaining under his care Treves makes more enemies than just Bytes, who reemerges infrequently throughout, eager to reclaim his prized possession any day. John’s life in the London Hospital begins in isolation, but as the doc makes leaps and bounds in progress with the patient, and the tenuous bond of trust they establish eventuates in John’s transfer to a more social area of the hospital, Treves must face up to the ethical consequences of using John as a pseudo-medical experiment. Hopkins is immensely likable as Dr. Treves, yet he’s perfectly imperfect. He doesn’t immediately question his approach with John, like how one of the first things he did with him was show him off to an auditorium packed with, yes, other medical-y people and laying claim to how this would be his most interesting patient yet. Instead, that question comes much later, after circumstances have changed dramatically. Yet, if we’re meant to feel ambivalent towards Treves, Hopkins does a damn fine job of convincing us of his better qualities.

This is of course not easy material to get through. If you have the patience to sit through some many trying scenes (I’m talking the kind that make you angry), then the upshot will be powerful, a potent reminder that people have an immense capacity for kindness in spite of all that has been shown here. Yet the treacherous scenes that come before are often punishment on the conscience; their bluntness at times visceral and greatly upsetting. Some parts are sickening, while others can be downright unwatchable. How can ignorance beget such monstrous behavior? The kind of freakishness that occurs naturally only in tents that capitalize on monsters. Lynch crafts a beautiful symmetry between John’s unfortunate looks and society’s collective hideousness.

The Elephant Man has been described as one of Lynch’s most accessible films. Structurally speaking it’s as straightforward as a . . . I don’t know, something that’s straightforward — a ruler, perhaps? No, a documentary. As straightforward as a documentary. I hesitate to make that comparison because it makes the film sound uninspired and possibly even lazy. Given the way The Elephant Man flows from one stage of life to the next, ducking and diving in and out of the various rooms that constituted John’s life the film does take on some of the evaluative properties of an in-depth documentary. Lynch didn’t have to concoct a timeline-distorting, reality-bending head trip to leave an impression here. He just needed to let the subject matter speak for itself.

*  just FYI Mutey, films like Mortdecai, The D-Train, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and what was your favorite film ever? oh yeah — Interstellar 😉 were reviewed before this was watched. Lol?

** slight correction: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created the new category for the following year’s ceremony, but only after they were pressured publicly to do so. When The Elephant Man failed to garner attention for its make-up effects, it was petitioned to have an honorary award bestowed upon it, even though the AMPAS refused. An American Werewolf in London was the first film that won the prize in the following year

THANK YOU to Mutey for your PATIENCE and your PERSEVERANCE and your HOSPITALITATITY for letting me post this review on your site, and so late! 🙂 The Elephant Man is incredible stuff, I recommend anyone who has not seen it give a look-see sometime. 

The Seventh Seal (1957) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Chris of Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop. Thanks for the review, Chris! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet), IMDB rank 117 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Plot: A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

A 1957 Swedish film about the ubiquity of death and the struggle of life sounds a bit like something you’d watch in film school or that hipsters would discuss over their kale lattes. It probably is both of those things, actually, but The Seventh Seal really is an interesting piece of cinema that’s worth a couple of hours of your time.

However, that does depend on what you want out of your films. If you want something light and fluffy to switch off to after a hard day at work then The Seventh Seal probably isn’t your best option in all honesty. But if you want something that’s going to make you consider deep metaphysical questions about life, death, religion and such then this could well float your boat.

There’s an incredible amount going on in The Seventh Seal, and it’s one of those films that you can take as much or as little away from it as you like. If you want to just see a knight travelling to his castle and meeting people along the way then you can do that, but if you want to see a man questioning the purpose of life in the face of death (or whatever else you want to read into it) then you can do that too.

For me, it’s a much richer film if you read into it a little. Granted, you could drive yourself crazy trying to work out absolutely everything, but just thinking a little deeper into its meanings is hugely rewarding. Some people like to do that with their films, some don’t. But this film gives back what you put into it.

Some of the film’s themes are abstract and hidden, whilst others are in reasonably plain sight. For me, the main theme of the film is a man questioning the existence of God, something which is quite openly discussed throughout the film. How can God exist when people are at war with each other and the Black Death is sweeping the country killing people? These are questions as old as the idea of God itself and questions that are still talked about today. For that reason it’s a film that although may look a little dated, still feels like it has resonance today.

Then there are plenty of other themes that run throughout such as the importance of family and friendship during hard times, ensuring you do good in life and lots of other deep shit. It really is a film you could analyse for years and still get news things from it each time.

The imagery in the film is some of the most iconic in cinema, and no doubt many of you will be familiar with the image of Max Von Sydow’s Antonius Block playing a game of chess with Death. The image of the danse macabre as Death leads away his victims is also incredibly iconic and powerful and helps turn the films into something much more deep and meaningful in its messages and metaphors.

The Seventh Seal simply isn’t a film that will appeal to everyone. It can be very slow moving at times, covers some pretty heavy themes and is just downright surreal and odd in parts. Definitely the kind of film my girlfriend would comment something along the lines of ‘what the fuck are you watching?!’ Don’t watch it if you’re looking for something to unwind and switch off to.

But I quite enjoyed it. I enjoyed thinking a little more into it and some of the cinematography is fantastic, so even if you don’t want to get all philosophical about it, there’s still plenty to enjoy. It’s probably not one I’d watch again in all honesty, but a good one to tick off the watch-list.